Changes Coming to The Molokai Dispatch
Newspaper to cancel bulk mailing
In the past six years as owner of The Molokai Dispatch, I’ve strived to create a kind of “Goldilocks” of newspapers – not too big, not too small, but just right for our community. However, that challenge – and our desire to provide quality news to our readers – has always been in balance with the need for financial sustainability.
While we are not a non-profit, we operate much like one. Community service is at the heart of our purpose. Because of this, we are making some changes that will help us financially to continue offering you the weekly paper many of you expect and enjoy.
It is a Business
Because we are not a non-profit, we can’t rely on grants or public funding to keep us going. We survive almost entirely thanks to local businesses that purchase advertising. Most of these advertisers are regulars who understand that the value of their dollar goes beyond display ads – these business owners are investing in Molokai’s free press and the empowerment of our community, while at the same time taking steps to help their own survival.
Yet like these small businesses, we, too, are susceptible to the economic factors that affect Molokai. Newspapers are folding around the world, and we feel lucky to be surviving.
No Bulk Mailing After Dec. 14
Beyond providing a newspaper that is free to our readership, we have prided ourselves at offering newspapers to every post office box on Molokai every week. More than 3,000 of you receive our paper this way.
Bulk mailing costs us more than $45,000 a year. Although this cost is off-set by insert advertisers like Molokai Community College, Ace Hardware, Napa, Kmart and others, it has been a money-losing practice.
Given these challenges and the current economic down-turn of our market, we will no longer be able to afford bulk mailing to on-island mail boxes of The Molokai Dispatch after Dec. 14, 2011.
What this Means
Although people like my own grandmother will no longer receive The Molokai Dispatch free in their mailbox every week, there will be options available.
It is true that where one door closes, another is opened. Canceling bulk mailing of The Molokai Dispatch will allow us to make the following improvements to our services:
• The Molokai Dispatch will become more sustainable. The 26-year legacy of free press on Molokai can continue.
• The newspaper will continue to be offered free of charge.
• Island-wide distribution can be doubled, meaning more papers at more locations around the island. As it is now, our papers disappear off the shelves after the second or third day. Weekly issues will now be dropped off to distribution locations twice a week.
• The church listings and MEO bus schedule will now be listed weekly and free of charge to these organizations. This is something I have wanted to include for a long time but have not been able to afford.
• On-island readers who depend on receiving the newspaper in their mailbox can continue to do so for a minimal fee – our cost plus 10 percent (to help keep the lights on). At just $44 per year, that is a huge discount to the $70 off-islanders pay for the same annual subscription.
Again, the Molokai Dispatch is still free of charge available from over 40 businesses and popular stops island-wide. When you see ads for annual on-island subscriptions, understand that this is an optional service that we are offering to those who want yearly subscriptions in their mailboxes.
If you have the chance, or if hear someone is worried they have to buy our paper, please help us to pass on the facts.
In the coming weeks, you will continue to hear from me about the changes that will be taking place at The Molokai Dispatch. We want to be as transparent as possible about the process, and keep you informed about our efforts to continue serving the community.