OPED: Dispatch staff remains committed to providing local news

Allison Roth-Cooper
York Dispatch


Following some necessary mandated production changes to our print newspaper, The York Dispatch staff remains focused on providing more local news than any other news outlet covering York County.

But the focus on hyper-local news comes with a few trade-offs, which haven’t been well-received by some of our readers, and we can understand why.

Faced with decisions regarding how to best utilize the limited news space in our print newspaper, we have made the decision to cut our formatted business page and some cartoons and feature columns. We decided cutting features and retaining our space for local news was the way to go.

We didn’t make the decision in a vacuum. We conducted a reader survey over two months. We ran an ad in print and online encouraging readers to weigh in prior to making our decisions about what to cut. We even offered the chance for one reader who took the survey to win a $200 gift card (winner announced soon!) for helping us out.

The decision was all but unanimous: Don’t cut back on local news and prep sports. Half of those surveyed were interested in the features, the other half didn’t care as much about them. So, we set our sights on reducing our features section to two pages.

We have heard from readers, some of whom have read The York Dispatch for eight decades! “

We don’t like change,” a reader named Barb told me as she recounted how she and a friend checked in with the comic strip “Mark Trail” each day to read the latest installment. They’ll miss it, she said.

Others lamented the loss of the dedicated business page. We will still run the same number of local business stories and some national business news, but wire stories will be relegated to the wire page, and local business features (we know you love your restaurant openings) will live on A1 and our local page. They will be clearly labeled with a small graphic to highlight the business news.

We get it. The newspaper industry has been changing dramatically for nearly two decades with the digital disruption that now brings the latest news to readers’ iPhones. And we understand that not everyone wants their news from a digital device.

But, alas, that’s the way of the industry, and we have worked hard to ensure that, no matter where our readers get their news, there is plenty of local fodder for consumption.

We have a staff of local journalists committed to bringing you news, sports, videos and images from York County. The staff has adjusted to bring breaking news to our digital readers and promoting it on social media for immediate dissemination.

Journalists who formerly focused on writing now shoot video and take photos; our photo staff writes breaking news and features.

The change has been swiftly evolving, and our staff works to bring news to several platforms 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We feel fortunate to have such talented journalists on staff and such a passionate readership. We have enjoyed talking with many of you on the phone this past week, though we are sorry it has been to hear that you are unhappy with the changes. We have had a lot of good conversations and we enjoyed them.

Please know your feedback is vital to us and we appreciate hearing from you. We will continue to bring you the community news you count on.

— Allison Roth-Cooper is editor of The York Dispatch.