BY JOHN SCHAFFNER, PUBLISHER
On Feb. 20, 1983, the first edition of The Beacon was published and distributed to the residents of Ottawa County. Much has changed since that fateful day. However, one thing has not changed.
In the beginning, The Beacon was published as a 100% local community newspaper whose editorial content tended toward “positive” community news and features. The distribution was 100% FREE and designed to be 100% home delivered from the Marblehead Lighthouse and Catawba Point west through Oak Harbor. Additional copies were made available at numerous local businesses to reach the thousands of visitors to our area.
Today, I can say without hesitation that those principals remain unchanged.
From 1983 to 1999, The Beacon was a tabloid in size. In 1999, we increased the size to what is known in the industry as a “broadsheet” size in order to match the size of the daily newspapers in the market. Content-wise, The Beacon was “hyper-local” then and remains “hyper-local” today. It was locally owned and operated then, and still is today.
Since the introduction of the internet in the 1990s, much has changed in the media world, from small communities to major markets. Publications such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Toledo Blade have seen their paid circulations drop dramatically over the past 25 years. Both of those major dailies no longer deliver daily. “Paid circulation” daily newspapers have been paid for their content and delivery for 200 years. When the internet began giving the news away online, their subscriptions began to crater.
Just recently, they began to put up “paywalls” for their online editions.
As a free community newspaper, The Beacon has never sacrificed its circulation. We are also happy to provide an online version for our readers. Via our association with the Free Newspaper regional and national association, our distribution and readership is now independently audited every two years. What these audits show is that The Beacon averages a circulation of close to 13,500, has a better than 85% readership, and that 2.25 individuals per household read it. That means that close to 24,000 people read The Beacon every week.
Then along came Facebook.
Developed initially as a “chatroom” for individuals to communicate. It has become much more. Now there are local and community chatrooms as subsets of the original. Talk of Port Clinton, Talk of Oak Harbor, Talk of Ottawa County are just a few examples. They have become popular places for locals to communicate with one another. However, there are some who, unfortunately, look at these sites as “local news sites.” They are definitely not.
A couple of years ago, when there was much discussion regarding a proposed business development of the Waterworks Park area in Port Clinton, there was a great deal of “mis-information” and “dis-information” posted on the local sub sites.
Were they influential in passing along opinion? Absolutely! Were they 100% factual? Not even close!
None of the local Facebook sites have anything close to the readership The Beacon has developed over its 39-year history. Although they are often entertaining and informational, they simply cannot be fact checked for accuracy and should not be relied upon for news.
When you multiply our weekly 24,000 readers by 52 weeks . . . we’re talking almost 1,250,000. That is a big responsibility . . . one that we don’t take lightly. Sadly, as the circulation of the area daily newspapers has dropped, a common business advertising principal has been put forward that print advertising doesn’t work anymore.
The Beacon through the years has always been dedicated to providing the best service and advertising results for our advertising customers, especially since they provide nearly 100% of our revenues. For instance, if only 2% of our readers responded to a specific ad, That would mean nearly 500 individuals would walk into a business in response. That’s a lot of folks!
I sincerely hope that The Beacon will carry on for at least another 40 years providing your “hyper-local” community news with the emphasis on the positive side of people and events. We have always appreciated the support of both our readers and our advertising customers.