You may have heard that the Enterprise building, located on Henrietta Ave. N., is up for sale.
This does not signal the demise of your local newspaper. We aren't going away.
We simply need office space better-suited to our staff and needs.
Like any smart business owner, our Fargo-based company, Forum Communications, aggressively seeks and implements proactive steps to remain ahead of any financial challenges.
The plan to sell the Enterprise building continues our strategy to "right-size" our physical footprint.
Technology, in particular, allows newspapers to operate differently than we have in the past.
With the advent of digital cameras, we no longer use the dark room that was dedicated to developing rolls of film.
Advances in computers and pagination software mean we don't assemble newspaper pages by hand. It's all done on a laptop - and the graphic designer may be located at any one of Forum Communications' properties.
Newspaper economics 101, if you will
Neal Ronquist, publisher of our sister paper "Republican Eagle" in Red Wing, explains it best:
"Let's dispel a couple of misnomers: Newspapers are not non-profit businesses, nor are they public utilities.
Newspapers are a for-profit business and are managed and operated like most other businesses. We pay employees wages and benefits. We buy materials and services from local, state, regional, national and international vendors. We pay for utilities. We pay taxes. We donate cash, services and other items to charities.
Newspapers traditionally have derived revenue from three different sources: Advertisers who place ads to market their goods and/or services; individuals who place classified advertisements selling couches, cars and other goods; and individuals who pay for a subscription to receive the news and advertising messages printed on the newspaper's pages.
And after all the revenue owed to us is collected and expenses paid, we strive to have more revenue coming in than expenses going out - a profit.
The development of social media platforms, coupled again with mobile and network advancements, resulted in people being able to sell their personal items directly to others they were connected with. This eliminated the need to place classified ads in newspapers, resulting in even less revenue flowing into newspapers.
During the same period the cost of business wasn't going down. The cost of materials, equipment, taxes, health insurance were all going up.
Not a good scenario for any type of business.
What have we done?
We've adapted. We're no longer just printing newspapers, we're multimedia companies producing content in text, audio and video formats for dissemination in print and online.
We've embraced technology, resulting in the automation and centralization of many processes and tasks. This has allowed us to retain, and employ, content generators and sales professionals in the communities we serve.
We've shrunk the number of buildings we own and operate. We continue to support the communities we cover even as our physical footprint dwindles. It's because the evolution of our business no longer requires enormous pieces of equipment or high volumes of people. Just as many factories have reduced in size or number as technology has changed, so have we. One reporter with a smartphone has literally replaced dozens of people compared to 30 years ago. Same goes for a sales representative with a tablet.
We never were a destination business, like a retail store. Our employees have always gone out into the world to do their work. Reporters travel to stories. Sales representatives meet with business owners at their places of business. Our independently contracted delivery force, or the U.S. Mail, brings our print products to your doorstep, and, of course, the internet brings content to your mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer.
The world has changed, and we have changed with it.
The result is we produce more content today than ever before and have more audience than at any point in our history. We also have less economic support from our communities than ever before.
That's right, we're producing more than ever, being read by more than ever, yet the communities we cover provide us less economic support than ever before.
First, newspapers are not dying. They are reinventing themselves on the fly, for all the world to see.
No pressure, but you need us to figure this out. Our democracy, our way of life depends on a strong, free, ethical press. The journalist watchdog is more important than ever as all of us are overwhelmed with messages coming from unknown, untrained, unverified sources.
We're not seeking a free pass. Call us out when we don't meet your standards. We will listen and work to meet your high expectations.
We're asking for your support. Today, that means purchasing us in print, as we don't yet charge for our website-based content. In the very near future, we will charge for access to our websites and will welcome your support when that day arrives.
If you own a business; place advertisements with us. Our products get results. We have more audience than ever before.
If you are selling your couch or car, place an ad with us. Our products get results. We have more audience than ever before.
Support us like you support all local businesses, or perhaps how you should support local businesses. If you want a healthy community, it starts with having a healthy business community and we're a part of that community. Our employees work and live here, buy houses, buy cars, buy groceries, pay taxes. They do their part to support the local economy, as does our business.
We are producing more content than ever and have more audience than ever before."
The Enterprise remains committed to providing quality, community-focused content. Our communities need us. Our democracy needs us. You need us. We need you.