Economic challenges lead to News Tribune, Superior Telegram decreasing print frequency

The change is a cost-saving measure, needed to alleviate financial challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duluth News Tribune will reduce to a two-day print schedule beginning July 8. E-editions will still be offered seven days a week. (Adelle Whitefoot /

The Duluth News Tribune will publish its physical paper only twice a week starting July 8.

While the company will continue to publish a daily news product online, the physical paper will be published Wednesdays and Saturdays and delivered via U.S. mail instead of carriers. This cost-saving measure comes amid economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic — a reality facing newspapers across the country.

Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of a similar announcement from another paper owned by Forum Communications Co. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead announced Tuesday that it would be cutting its print product to twice a week.

The Superior Telegram will also be altering its print days. It will print once a week on Fridays starting July 10 and be delivered via mail. The Cloquet Pine Journal will also be delivered by mail starting July 9.

"This is a move to provide (local) journalism … with a future, and we're hopeful that this is going to be a model that will provide some stability for local journalism," Publisher Neal Ronquist said.


The paper will still be available Wednesdays and Saturdays at local vendors. An electronic version of the daily paper , laid out as newspaper pages to flip through on a screen, will still be available seven days a week on the News Tribune's website.

Subscription costs will remain the same. It's justified, Ronquist said, because the costs associated with creating, designing and laying out the paper will stay the same, and the News Tribune was already charging lower-than-average subscription rates.

The changes mean layoffs will occur in the circulation, press operations and mailroom departments. The exact number of jobs affected wasn't available, as there were still people to notify, Ronquist said.

Forum Communications Printing Duluth is located at 4305 Airpark Blvd. The Duluth News Tribune will reduce to a two-day print schedule beginning July 8. E-editions will still be offered seven days a week. (Adelle Whitefoot /

The pandemic expedited the inevitable transition to print, Ronquist said. Pre-pandemic, the News Tribune was facing revenue challenges due to decreasing advertising, as well as decreases in print subscribers as the organization shifted its focus to digital readership.

Online traffic has also grown at quicker rates since the start of the pandemic, so the changes are following audience habits, he said.

"Unfortunately, what's occurred is that the pandemic has accelerated the timeline of that transition. What may have been a transition of years has all of a sudden translated into days," Ronquist said.


When making the decision to decrease publishing days, he said company executives considered the profitability of each day of publishing — as not all days are profitable — and looked for areas where efficiency could be improved. They modeled several different options, and found two days of publishing made the most financial sense.

They also wanted to ensure the News Tribune was investing in content, marketing, technology and customer service.

"The newspaper business has never been about the paper that the stories are printed on. That's merely been the delivery mechanism. It's always been about the stories of the community," Ronquist said.

News Tribune reporters will continue covering news seven days a week, which will be published online, Executive Editor Rick Lubbers wrote in a column announcing the change.

"We will cover your favorite local sports teams, share your celebratory milestones and sorrow-filled memorials, and offer everything from investigative reporting and explanatory stories to local features and opinion pieces," Lubbers wrote.

The Duluth Media Group has already made changes to curb coronavirus-related financial challenges.

The Lake County News-Chronicle published its final paper Friday . The paper, which covered Northeastern Minnesota, was facing declining subscribers and decreasing advertising revenue — financial struggles that have been ongoing for many years, according to News Tribune reporting. It was the third Forum Communications Co. paper that closed since the start of the pandemic

The News Tribune also cut the number of pages published on Mondays through Saturdays in early April due to the pandemic.


The closures and News Tribune changes reflect trends in the media industry that the News Tribune previously reported . About 33,000 employees of U.S. media companies have lost their jobs, been furloughed or taken pay cuts since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

What To Read Next
Get Local