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Excuse Us, Readers


The Richmond Times-Dispatch has been explaining itself a lot lately. There was the "With So Much News, No One Gets It All" commentary on newsroom decisions from Managing Editor Peggy Bellows, published April 27, with another story about the paper's changes appearing May 4. Then Publisher Thomas A. Silvestri wrote "T-D Looks to Future With Change." (You're up next, Executive Editor Glenn Proctor!) For those of you with shorter attention spans (apparently, readers ages 18-26), here's a list of 26 reasons given by Bellows and Silvestri for the transformed T-D, arriving on fewer doorsteps near you -- at a slightly higher subscription rate (but it's really only an average increase of 3 cents a day).

1. "It's a competitive business."

2. "There are folks from special interest weekly publications, television stations, bloggers, and radio stations all asking questions."

3. "Usually, we get the answers first. Sometimes, someone else does."

4. "We didn't follow up on the release until the next day."

5. "While they were working this story, our reporters were breaking [other] stories."

6. "We have a team of four full-time reporters and an editor who cover Richmond, but there is so much going on and so many good, important stories to pursue, no one gets them all."

7. "I remain fiercely optimistic about our newspaper. But we're in an unsettling time."

8. "We've painfully stopped delivering The Times-Dispatch to western parts of the state because we have lost money on those routes for years."

9. "We have fewer employees than we did in 2005."

10. "Many of you keep telling us you don't have time in your busy lives to read a newspaper each morning."

11. "Our business is going through a transformation in which general news and highly specialized information is available, often for free, on multiple platforms, such as online or on your cell phone."

12. "We're feeling the effects of a stubborn economic downturn, fed by an apparently tapped-out middle class."

13. "Last week, the state's largest electric utility said it would seek an 18.3 percent increase in rates."

14. "Higher newsprint prices … are projected to rise by more than 12 percent this year."

15. "Higher gas prices and other rising manufacturing costs."

16. "Some [retailers], such as A&N and CompUSA, have gone out of business, taking with them ad dollars we no longer have."

17. "Your children, their friends or younger neighbors don't read a newspaper as their main source of news."

18. "It also worries us all on how informed this community really is or will be in the future."

19. "The Times-Dispatch's livelihood is a balancing act."

20. "We could have avoided cutting the newspaper if we had more paid subscribers, or if legions of retailers, employers, auto dealers and realty agents started 2008 with great success, with more great results to come. That's not happening now."

21. "'Hanging on is the only sin.'"

22. "We are challenged to increase the number of paid subscriptions in a perceived era of free content."

23. "But more and more, our longtime readers and new readers are going online throughout the day to get their news and information."

24. "We hear from people that they don't have time to read the paper — and they really hate all those dead trees filling up the recycling bin."

25. "Higher costs for things such as newsprint and a recession that is limiting advertising revenues."

26. "[People] still want local news and information, but it's all overwhelming." S

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