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Novato Advance to cease publication Sept 24th
Friday 12 Sep 2008, 07:16
Filed under: Marin, Novato

While we continue our war up here, Novato’s weekly paper will cease.

Advance to cease publication
Novato’s hometown newspaper to print last issue on Sept. 24, 2008

Staff Report
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:33 AM PDT

It is with a heavy heart that we announce that the Novato Advance will cease publication on Sept. 25, 2008 after 86 years of uninterrupted publishing. Reduced advertising revenues and marginal circulation gains along with increased expenses all contributed to this decision.

“The staff at the Advance has done an incredible job producing and delivering a quality newspaper. They are a group of consummate professionals, and it has been a privilege to work with them. It will be a great loss for Novato to have its hometown newspaper close after so many years,” said Advance Publisher Paul Hutcheson.

The Advance has not had a profitable year since 1999 — though not for lack of trying. We have tried many different scenarios in an effort to stem the losses. In the last few years, in an effort to create a platform that would lead the paper to profitability, we increased the writing and reporting strength by adding editorial staff and additional columnists, increased advertising staff in an effort to sell additional advertising, created a Web site to drive additional readers and advertising revenue, created an automotive section to produce additional revenue, reformatted the paper’s layout into four sections for better “readability,” sampled 3,000 copies of the paper weekly to different residences in an effort to increase circulation and updated the paper’s style on a regular basis. These changes resulted in many editorial awards by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. Up to and including the highest award, “General Excellence,” which the Advance won for four consecutive years: 2003 – 2006.

While these changes helped significantly reduce the losses, they have not translated into the additional advertising and circulation revenues necessary to bring the Advance into profitability.

Two additional contributing factors to our losses are the current state of the economy and Internet use as a source for news. The economy has forced retailers to cut back on advertising as they also struggle to increase revenue in the face of weak sales.

The losses in advertising and circulation are not confined to the Advance alone. This is a national trend that began with the explosive growth of the Internet affecting all newspapers. It is a trend that is creating a huge impact on our nation, just as losing the Advance will impact Novato. Unfortunately, advertising sales on Internet sites have not been able to replace the losses from print ads as many retailers market themselves on the Web.

Publications in the surrounding area have been approached to attract a buyer for the Advance, but we have not had any interest to date. Anyone interested in purchasing the Advance should contact Paul Hutcheson, Publisher, at (415) 892-1516.

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