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The Future of the Stoney Creek Gazette

The Stoney Creek Gazette for the last 25 years has helped draw the community together, keeping people informed of current local issues and events; informing people about living on and managing small blocks; and raising funds to help conduct community activities and pay the insurance for the Community Association. In addition, it keeps Carwoola residents aware of an array of services that are available locally and encourages residents to support local businesses, who reciprocate by supporting the Community Association through the Gazette.

The Stoney Creek Gazette is experiencing difficulties because of:

  1. The time taken to prepare the Gazette; it really requires at least 2 days / month. The current editor cannot afford that amount of time.
  2. The cost of printing has risen by 60% to publish 26-28 pages and we have increased advertising rates commensurately. Because of the increased cost, some advertisers have ceased advertising or reduced their ad size, reducing the advertising income and number of pages that can be included in the Gazette. We are now looking at producing only 14-18 pages without making a loss.

The Community Association is considering options available to address the issues and has developed a questionnaire to accompany this issue of the Gazette for readers to complete. Please take the time to read the information below and to complete the questionnaire. The solution may end up being a combination of these options.


  1. Online only version:

    Advantages:

    Producing an online-only publication would be less demanding on the current Editor’s time as arrangements could be made for contributors to upload their own material to be included in the online version.

    An online version opens lots of options such as interaction within the community, commenting on articles, and posting questions.

    Although it would be expected that circulation of the Gazette would decrease markedly and that advertisers would be justified in seeking lower advertising rates. Since the cost of printing would no longer be a significant cost, the advertising rates could be significantly reduced without significantly affecting overall advertising revenue. (Doing the numbers, a current advertising page is worth ~$10 net to CCA; a half-page ad in an online version might cost $10 instead of $40.) This might in fact increase net revenue. We need to know if this is the case and how many advertisers are likely to continue to advertise.

    Disadvantages:

    The Community Association recognises that not everyone has an Internet connection that would enable them to download an online copy of the gazette, but has no idea how many people would download and read an online Gazette. Keeping track of who wants a hard-copy version and who is happy to download becomes an additional task. We need to know how many households would require a printed copy.

    We may be unable to find sufficient advertisers to fully support the Gazette and may be forced to charge for a printed Gazette for those unable to access the online version. A subscription-only printed Gazette would require keeping track of subscribers. We need to know how much people may be prepared to pay for a Gazette.

    Currently the Gazette is delivered to all mailboxes in the “Gazette catchment area” – Carwoola from the Kings Highway, Primrose Valley, and parts of Hoskinstown and Rossi. Feedback from new residents indicates that they feel part of the community when the Gazette appears in their mailbox; many seek to have a “Welcome to Carwoola” Information Pack delivered. With an online-only version, new residents (especially those without Internet access) may have no way of knowing of the existence of the online or printed Gazette, without some other way of being informed.


  2. Increase advertising:

    If sufficient new advertisers could be found, it would be possible to fund a printed Gazette with the current number of pages by increasing the advertising revenue to support it.

    Advantages:

    The Gazette would be able to continue in the current format, with the potential to increase circulation as new subdivisions are developed.

    Disadvantages:

    The burden on the Editor remains unchanged. Possible remedies to this might include sharing the task of producing the Gazette. Specifically, there would probably need to be a dedicated “advertising manager” to seek advertising and manage customer relations.

    We may be unable to find sufficient advertisers to support the Gazette and may be forced to charge for the Gazette. A subscription-only Gazette would require keeping track of subscribers. We need to know how much people may be prepared to pay for a Gazette.


  3. Reduce the number of pages:

    The layout of the Gazette could be “tweaked” to be more efficient with space, and continue to be published in printed format. A decision would probably have to made about which articles would be published, as there would be only a limited number of pages that could be printed. One criterion might be to publish only those articles that are relevant to living on and managing a small property in Carwoola. Another option might be to vary the range of articles each month. We need to know which articles are most popular.

    Advantages:

    The Gazette would be able to continue in a different format, with the potential to increase circulation as new subdivisions are developed.

    Disadvantages:

    The burden on the Editor is reduced, albeit slightly, once the “tweaked” format is finalised, but probably remains unsustainable for an individual. Again, a solution may be to share the production of the gazette – specific tasks might include receiving and collating articles, receiving and preparing advertising, responding to enquiries, and collecting printed Gazettes from the printer and preparing them for distribution.

    The content of the Gazette is reduced significantly and the readership may fall.

The survey was available until 31 December 2011.  Results are be published on the Gazette Reader Survey Results page.



story | by Dr. Radut