Something EXTRA coming soon from the Echo Pilot

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!  

The Echo Pilot is going to two issues per week at the end of March. The newspaper has served Greencastle and Antrim Township since 1849, always publishing once a week. But a weekly just can’t keep up anymore. With municipal populations of 3,998 and 14,893 respectively, there is more news to print than should be squished into one weekly edition.

“Greencastle is the fastest growing community in Franklin County, and we want to grow with it,” said general manager Kristy Yaukey.

She has worked with the Echo Pilot staff for a year to prepare for the big change.

“We have spoken to over 300 advertisers and readers. This is what people want and what we are giving them,” Yaukey continued.

She noted that the Echo Pilot, now published as a broadsheet, has doubled in size over the past seven years. It has frequently had four sections, labeled A, B, C and D, in order to contain all of the news and advertising. A second edition, to be called Echo Pilot EXTRA, will split the content but be very relevant to both readers and advertisers.

“We will provide hard news in a more timely fashion,” said Yaukey. That includes police reports, obituaries, and reports on local governmental meetings. “Echo Pilot EXTRA will also be geared toward weekend activities.”

Joyce Nowell, editor of the paper, is also thrilled about the dramatic change in news delivery.

“It’s very exciting to bring the Greencastle-Antrim community an expanded print product. While the trend is toward digital and mobile access, we have found that our readers continue to embrace print. We are happy to be able to provide even more timely local news and information in print,” Nowell said. “Residents can still go on their computers and phones for breaking news from the Echo Pilot, but two print issues each week will provide the most current product the Echo Pilot has produced in its 165 years.

“We take our responsibility as the only source of news and information exclusive to the Greencastle-Antrim community very seriously and anything we can do to better serve that need we want to do. In the past eight years the Echo Pilot has taken major strides toward making the community newspaper the biggest value to the lives of its residents. From going to full color in 2005 to the many specialty products of the past few years, the Echo Pilot has expanded its service to the community. Publishing a print edition twice a week is a natural step in that progression.”

Nowell rattled off the list of advantages to two issues per week - news and sports scores available sooner; more information published on subjects that affect readers’ lives, such as financial, automotive, real estate and health and wellness; a continuation of the usual features, but also puzzles like Word Search and Sudoku; a focus on local happenings in a section called “Going on in the Town and Township”; a local “Smile of the Week”; “Talk to the Animals” that highlights pet adoption; and “Five Things to Do This Weekend”.

“Echo Pilot EXTRA will evolve as we assess the interests of our readers,” Nowell concluded. “A kids page, food page and jobs page are good possibilities.”

Yaukey continued the list, stating the Faith and Values page will be revamped in Echo Pilot EXTRA to be more user-friendly. Specific businesses will be featured each week under “Meet Your Local Merchant”.

Advertisers can also target their audiences in the most beneficial way, choosing the timing of their service or product promotions. They will get their choice on which issue best meets their needs.

The EXTRA will have a different appearance, since it will be published as a tab. It will be half the size of the Echo Pilot, and look like a weekender newspaper.

Businesses have already purchased 80 percent of the advertising spots in Echo Pilot EXTRA for a year. Yaukey expects the page count to eventually expand from the planned 16 pages.

She is excited for the change, which is major in the print industry.

“In these times when most newspapers are decreasing their publication dates, we are one of the few that is adding a date,” she said.

Readers will notice the change on Monday, March 24, when the Echo Pilot hits the newsstands, and then arrives in subscriber mailboxes on Tuesday. That is two days earlier than customary. The first Echo Pilot EXTRA will be published Thursday, March 27. It will be available for sale at all of the current news outlets. That issue will be in mailboxes on Friday. Then people can get used to the new routine.

The price of individual copies will remain the same, at 75 cents. Subscription prices will not change immediately. Yaukey said the Franklin County rate of $32 for one year and $53 for two years will be in effect until August 2014. The out-of-county rates are $40 and $69. After August, the new rates, a “minimal increase”, will appear on the renewal cards sent in the mail. Readers are certainly encouraged to take advantage of the grace period to add time onto their subscriptions.

Yaukey intends to maintain the honored place the Echo Pilot has held in the community for 165 years.

“People love the Echo Pilot,” she said. “It is their coffee table newspaper. Our readers tell us they read it from front to back.”

Now they get to do it twice.