When Bruce Mitchell launched The Athens ‘A’ News in the spring of 1977, we were a twice-monthly newspaper. (I use “we” advisedly since while I was an Ohio University student that first year, I didn’t join the paper till nine years later.) It shifted to weekly fairly quickly in that first year, however. Then a few years later, in September 1980, The ‘A’ News went to twice-weekly with great fanfare (see image at right).

Guess what? As of Thursday, May 30, The Athens NEWS is returning to weekly publication. We are keeping our Thursday “Weekend” edition and dropping our Monday “Early Week” edition.

In making this move, we fall in line with the vast majority of alternative newsweeklies across the U.S. and Canada. I recall attending dozens of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) annual conferences over the years, and always feeling like a freak of nature because of our twice-weekly frequency. (OK, that was one reason.) I envied those papers that had a whole week to polish up their issue and present their best face to the world. Only one other paper in that very large trade group shared our twice-weekly publication schedule.

So suffice to say, rest assured that going to weekly doesn’t have to be a bad thing where the quality content and advertising services provided by The Athens NEWS are concerned. Quite the contrary, we view it as an opportunity to sharpen our focus on hard-hitting local news and investigative reporting, expand content of interest to OU students, improve and expand our entertainment news, and dispense with some of the content that’s not as interesting or urgent.

To help make up for dropping the Monday addition, we also plan to increase our posting of articles at www.athensnews.com. If we cover something on Friday, for example, you won’t have to wait till the following Thursday to see that article. While we do post breaking stories online now, once we go weekly, we’ll broaden our definition of what stories merit web posting.

Mark Cohen, president of APG Media of Ohio (which owns The Athens NEWS), on Friday added some of his thoughts about the change.

“As the media must adjust to an ever-changing landscape, we have made a decision to take The Athens NEWS to weekly,” he said. “Having a free website gives us the ability to get our content out (nearly) when it happens. This is a major asset for readers. The weekly NEWS should be thicker and continue to be one of the best alternative newspapers in the state.”

Back to me (Smith)… We’re still cogitating mightily on this momentous change, and will welcome feedback and suggestions over the next few weeks (send to news@athensnews.com). In line with that, we intend to post a readership survey on our website later this week. This change really does give us a lot of opportunity to improve this paper, and that’s exactly the attitude that we’re bringing to this process.

Oh, and I can’t finish this announcement without acknowledging a very important benefit of this change: Our staff no longer will work on Sundays. For the past 33 years, I’ve worked nine out of 10 Sundays producing the Monday issues, with the help of various other staff members.

An actual two-day weekend! Another day to sleep in! Sunday brunches! One o’clock NFL games! I think we can make this work.

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