May 04, 2012SOUTHBRIDGE — The Southbridge Evening News today kicks off a half-price subscription drive, coupled with a new, Friday-only alternative to its regular daily newspaper.
The Friday Weekend Edition will be mailed free to all Southbridge homes for six weeks, May 4 through June 8. After the sample period, a Friday-only subscription will cost $12 a year.
The regular Monday through Friday subscription price is being cut from $120 to $60 a year. People may subscribe to either the daily or the Friday-only edition by filling out the postage-paid return card inserted in this issue.
On newsstands, the single copy price of the paper will be trimmed from 60 cents to 50 cents per copy.
People who have already subscribed to the daily at the old price may also send in the postcard to lengthen their subscription time. For example, a subscriber who has already paid $120 can send in the card to get an extra year for free, because the new price is $60 a year.
"It has been more than 15 years since the Southbridge Evening News needed to conduct a subscription drive," said Stonebridge Press Publisher Frank Chilinski. "But since the 2008 economic downturn, a slow erosion in home subscriptions makes it clear we must be more affordable."
Besides a $60 annual price for the five-day daily, a Friday-only subscription is being offered for $12 a year — 52 issues. The Friday paper will carry features, previews of upcoming sports and news, photo spreads, and a quick review of the past week's events.
This is the first time in its 89-year history that the Southbridge Evening News has offered a one-day-a-week alternative to the daily.
The News is also happy to announce the hiring of veteran journalist and Southbridge resident Mark Ashton as a full-time reporter, joining Staff Writer Gus Steeves.
"Hiring Mark Ashton will turbo-charge our Friday Weekend Edition," Chilinski said.
The Friday paper, normally 12 pages, will at least double its size to accommodate more articles and pictures, he added. Ashton will write mainly for the Friday Weekend Edition, while Steeves will provide content for the Monday through Thursday issues.
"Mark Ashton has been a columnist for years, but his return to a full-time writing position in Southbridge is just wonderful," Chilinski added.
Of America's 1,400 daily newspapers, few are as small as the Southbridge Evening News.
"We're lucky to have survived the brunt of the recession, and it is because of the small-town feel of Southbridge," Chilinski said. "We're unusual — a city, but with the feel of a much smaller town, and that fits what we do."
Stonebridge Press publishes seven other once-weekly papers in Massachusetts near Southbridge — including the Sturbridge Villager, Charlton Villager, Webster Times, Spencer New Leader, Blackstone Valley Tribune and Auburn News.
The Southbridge Evening News devotes it news pages overwhelmingly to local content, virtually ignoring national and international fare.
"The continued existence of Southbridge's hometown paper is a clear indicator that an all-local format, affordable and accessible to all, is the way to go," Chilinski said.
To subscribe or renew to the Southbridge Evening News, fill out the postcard inserted in the back of this issue, or call 508-764-4325 during regular business hours.
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