Shared from the 12/27/2018 The Oklahoman eEdition

The Oklahoman to trim home delivery circulation area Jan. 1

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As part of the plan to reduce circulation areas, The Oklahoman is removing all its newspaper racks around the state. [PHOTO BY JIM BECKEL, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Citing economic realities, The Oklahoman’s new publisher said the newspaper will be reducing its circulation area Jan. 1, resulting in a loss of home delivery service to about7,000 subscribers.

The move also will reduce retail sales of newspapers out in the state by about 3,500.

“We hate it, but we’re losing money on these routes and we just can’t continue to do that anymore,” said Publisher Kelly Dyer Fry. “We hate to say goodbye to our longtime subscribers and we hope that they will stay with us as digital subscribers and continue to support local journalism within our state.”

Notices to those readers who will be losing home delivery service were mailed out in late November and early December, said Eric Wynn, vice president of circulation for The Oklahoman.

The letters prompted a huge volume of calls to the newspaper’s customer service switchboard, resulting in some customers being placed on hold for more than 30 minutes. Wynn apologized for the inconvenience.

In addition to ending home delivery for some customers, The Oklahoman is removing all of its vending machines from across the state, Wynn said.

No longer will there be coin-operated “machines on the corners,” he said.

The Oklahoman will continue to provide home delivery to subscribers in the expanded Oklahoma City metro area, which includes cities like Edmond, Midwest City, Yukon, Piedmont, Norman, Moore and Mustang, Wynn said.

Home delivery also will continue in some cities that are a little farther out, including Stillwater, Guthrie, Kingfisher, Okarche, El Reno, Ardmore, Davis and Sulphur, he said.

Commitment to state

coverage remains

Even though some readers will lose home delivery, Fry said The Oklahoman’s reporters will continue to cover major news stories throughout the state.

“We really work for all Oklahomans, not just our subscribers,” she said. “If people would look at us as a service, and not just a product, they would realize that we are out there every day watching out for them.

“We are committed to covering our state. ... We don’t have the numbers we once had, but when we get wind of something going on in Oklahoma we certainly consider it our job to look into it. And we still cover the Capitol for all Oklahomans.”

GateHouse Media, which bought The Oklahoman Oct. 1, made the decision to reduce the circulation area after a careful analysis of measures that would need to be taken to return the newspaper to profitability, Fry said.

The profitability of newspapers throughout the nation has been dramatically impacted over the last 15 years by the rapid expansion of the internet and resulting decline in advertising revenue. Newspaper staff reductions and other cost cutting measures have become commonplace.

Wynn noted The Oklahoman used to deliver newspapers to all corners in the state, but made the decision in 2008 to confine circulation to about a 150-mile radius of Oklahoma City. The latest decision will further reduce the print product circulation area.

“We never make these decisions lightly,” Wynn said. “These are painful decisions.”

Distance and density of subscribers were among the factors taken into consideration in determining which cities would continue to get home delivery, he said.

There were other factors, as well. For example, GateHouse Media owns the Ardmore newspaper, so distribution efficiencies were available in that city, Fry noted.

To ease the transition, readers who are losing home delivery are being offered continued digital service at the rate of $5.99 a month for up to a year, Wynn said.

Subscribers who still have prepaid funds in their delivery accounts on Jan. 1 will automatically be switched to digital service at the $5.99 monthly rate, Wynn said.

Customers can choose to opt out and receive a refund by calling the newspaper’s call center at 877-987-2737 or 405-478-7171, he said. Another option is to switch to mail delivery, which is a little more pricey and results in customers receiving their newspapers by mail a day or two after the publication date.

Wynn apologetically said the long wait times are expected to continue through January.

Audited circulation numbers published by The Oklahoman show that for the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the newspaper had an average paid circulation of 92,073, which included both print and electronic copies. The electronic copies were responsible for 20,409 of that number.

See this article in the e-Edition Here