By Brandi Makuski
Here we go again.
Anyone working in print news will tell you that it’s one of the hardest products on the planet to maintain. What once took an entire cadre of professional designers, marketing specialists, copy editors, journalists, and photographers to produce is now up to a dedicated staff of two, or three, if you’re lucky. I know professional journalists across the country who are operating a one-man show simply because they were laid off by a corporate publication that valued advertising content over in-depth journalism.
We do it because this profession is necessary for democracy. Our profession is supposed to operate free of influence to inform the public about what’s happening in local government, and about crime, business, and community events. And being in print brings a level of credibility you simply don’t get being only online.
Nationwide, the news industry has experienced a bloodbath, with perhaps half the number of journalists working today than five years ago. Smaller publications are gobbled up by corporations, then gutted of their loyal staff in favor of regionalized content, or, worse yet, canned content or unvetted press releases.
Less advertising dollars and fewer subscriptions mean fewer reporters than, arguably, any point in modern American history. And so the industry becomes the victim of the human condition: people get winded, burned out, or get a bad case of the flu. It’s not without some irony that a television news outlet in Wausau covered our ribbon-cutting in mid-October and an overworked, undertrained reporter made the error of referring to the Metro Wire as a “newsletter.”
But the news is still vital to our communities, and our small but determined staff is working to rebuild what was once a vibrant news industry in Portage Co. And before you ask—yes, we are hiring.
In other words, the few of us left covering news in Portage Co. have to really want to do a great job all the time, in spite of the social media trolls and complaints from elected officials who hold court on social media over their silo of followers.
For our venture into print, we partnered with Stevens Point-based Spectra Print, owned by the Hofmeister family. Being a hyperlocal news outlet, we insisted that every aspect of creating our print issues be conducted here in Portage Co. so the benefits of increased revenue and new jobs will be felt here, in our community.
Those print issues, as many of you have already seen for yourselves, are sleek, glossy pages filled with local news and high-resolution photographs. It looks unlike anything else in our market.
For the past three weeks, you’ve been able to pick up a free copy of the Metro Wire at local BP and Kwik Trip convenience stores, as well as Feltz’s Dairy Store, RD’s Diner, and a few other locations, every Thursday morning. It’s connected us to a whole new audience—one that isn’t online every day, or at all—who have been missing hard news coverage of local government and crime.
You get one more issue for free. Beginning Nov. 18, we begin to charge $3 per copy at local gas stations. You can find a list of locations at the end of this article.
If you prefer home delivery via the U.S. Post Office, that will cost $100 a year.
Our website will remain a 24-hour news service—in fact, we’re growing. You’ve already seen a few pieces from our new columnist, Mr. Ron Carlson, and our new full-time reporter, Mr. Craig Marx, begins his role as a reporter and assistant editor in just a few weeks.
So, here we go again, tilting at windmills. Our 24/7 news reporting at www.spmetrowire.com will continue, but whether or not we continue in print…well, that’s entirely up to you.
I’m not a current subscriber but would like to be.
No problem. You can find all the details you need about subscribing here: https://spmetrowire.com/subscribe/
I’m a current subscriber: Will I receive a print issue in the mail?
Not automatically. If you had a subscription on Oct. 10, you can request to be added to the home delivery list for no extra cost during your current subscription. Once your current subscription term ends, your cost will increase from $5/month to $10/month for a monthly subscriber, or from $60/year to $100/year for those of you who purchased an annual subscription.
You can remain at your current cost if you wish to keep an online-only subscription.
If you wish to be added to the mailing list, you must send your name and mailing address to [email protected] and your new charges will be reflected in your next billing cycle.
Where can I find a print copy of the Metro Wire?
You can find copies of the Metro Wire every Thursday morning at the following locations:
BP, 412 Division St., Stevens Point
BP, 4928 Main St., Stevens Point
BP, 3209 Church St., Stevens Point
Kwik Trip, 1600 Maria Dr., Stevens Point
Kwik Trip, 3533 Stanley St., Stevens Point
Kwik Trip, 5311 Old Hwy. 18 Rd., Stevens Point
Kwik Trip, 3258 Church St., Stevens Point
Kwik Trip, 1900 Post Rd., Plover
Kwik Trip, 2511 Plover Rd., Plover
Thanks for reading, and if you’ve got comments, complaints, or ideas—don’t add to the stink of the sewer on social media. Have a little class and put them down in an email, or an open letter. We look forward to hearing from you.