By Kate Jackman-Atkinson, myWestman
NEEPAWA, Man. — It’s been an exciting week at the Neepawa Banner, we welcomed another paper into our family. On Thursday, September 2, at 5 p.m., we took ownership of the Neepawa Press, bringing the 119-year-old paper back under local ownership.
Late last week, and over the weekend, we got started amalgamating the two Neepawa operations and built our first edition of the Neepawa Press. There was a lot of excitement when we unbundled the freshly printed papers.
As news of the purchase has spread and we’ve talked to advertisers and readers, the feedback, for the most part, has been positive. Surprisingly to me, the most frequent question we’ve been asked is, “Why are you keeping the two papers?” To me, this is a surprising question because of how we view the Press within our newspaper family. The Press doesn’t represent a competitor, it represents another way to help our customers and better inform our readers.
Each week, the Neepawa Banner distributes 8,200 copies of our paper. This number makes us the most widely circulated community paper in rural Manitoba. This also makes our ads a little more costly. When our competitors are publishing 5,000, 2,000 or 900 copies, they can offer cheaper rates– it costs a lot to print and distribute 8,200 newspapers. While our cost per copy is quite low, all those copies add up to a higher total price.
For many of our customers, this wide circulation is why they want to advertise with us. They want to reach a wide area and they draw their customers from across our coverage area; from Ste Rose to Carberry and Westbourne to Erickson.
But many of our customers don’t.
Many of our advertisers draw their customers from a much tighter area centered around Neepawa. Many of our customers are individuals or community groups that don’t have huge advertising budgets. Having the Neepawa Press allows us to better serve these customers.
The Neepawa Press will distribute about 3,200 copies and will cover the Beautiful Plains area: Neepawa, the Municipalities of Rosedale, Glenella-Lansdowne and the north portion of North Cypress-Langford. For those advertisers who want to target customers in this area, the Press offers a more focused way of reaching those readers.
With two distribution dates, Wednesday and Friday, we can also offer customers a paper on the day that works best for their business or event.
The Neepawa Banner will remain essentially the same paper it has always been. It will continue to feature news and advertising from across the area, as well as a strong editorial element.
The Neepawa Press has a long history and it’s something we didn’t want to see lost. The new layout pulls from the paper’s past, including bringing back a historic nameplate. With this choice, we hope to emphasize our respect for the paper’s history within the community.
There is nothing saying that Neepawa will forever remain a two paper town– we are in fact an anomaly in this regard, few rural communities succeed in having two weekly papers. But from the start, the goal has been to operate two different papers with different news. Our hope is that with these two products, we can offer our customers more news and better ways of letting people know what’s going on. We hope this will help build our communities. After all, isn’t that what we all want?