Guest column: Bread, butter, meat and potatoes

When I was very young my mornings were often about Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo.

Later on, you could count on an afternoon movie on local TV, sometimes with an announcer who gave out prizes. After school it was Gilligan’s Island or Gunsmoke. Saturday mornings were spent with cartoons.

All of those things are gone. Cable TV and, later, the Internet, altered the local TV business model forever, and those changes continue as people use DVRs and applications like Roku to avoid commercials and watch what they want when they want.

It’s a different world, and the worst thing we could do is to pretend otherwise. Comics and puzzles in local newspapers like the Post Register don’t make as much sense as they used to, when their cost prevents us from providing unique news and information about and for eastern Idaho that is available nowhere else..

Beginning April 18, we’ll no longer be publishing a selection of comics and puzzles. Andy Capp and Doonesbury will join Romper Room and Captain Kangaroo in the museum of media yesteryears.

Instead, working with other daily newspapers from Lewiston to Twin Fall, we’ve created a statewide news report that only newspapers can produce. We teamed up to cover the Legislature from gavel to gavel, coordinating our coverage sometimes minute by minute.

Local reporting has always been our bread and butter. In the future it will be the meat and potatoes, too. As new marketing and shopping patterns have cut into advertising revenue, newsrooms of all sizes have reduced staff, reduced pages and reduced non-essential material.

Our priority is to protect our core franchise: local, regional and state news produced by experienced, committed reporters, editors, sports writers and photographers. New partnerships will bring you work from newsrooms throughout the state.

If you find our modest selection of national and world news insufficient, we’ve partnered with the Washington Post to offer our subscribers a free online subscription to one of the nation’s best newspapers. Just call our circulation department on Monday at 542-6777 and they’ll help you enroll.

While newspapers have worked hard to evolve with your changing habits and the changing culture, we probably haven’t changed fast enough. Vestiges of the Peanuts era are hard to shake, because we know some readers still want the daily comics they have read for 50 years or to fold up the paper and finish the crossword. They don’t want to do any of that online. We get it, probably too well.

We also understand where our core value comes from – the local news, letters to the editor, calendars, obituaries, sports features, business briefs, local ads and photos that depict and explain life in eastern Idaho. That’s what we’ll continue to do better than anyone else.

Plothow is editor and publisher of the Post Register.