The Advocate has a new look this month, and I thought you’d appreciate knowing why we’ve undertaken our first format change in several years.

The largest cost of publishing a newspaper involves paying for the newsprint on which our paper is printed. Since January 1995 alone, the cost of this newsprint has increased by 75 percent, and we’ve been told that more increases are expected later this year. Something about supply and demand, I guess – too many people starting up newspapers, and too few companies producing newsprint.

Anyway, our paper has been arriving on your doorstep or newsrack in three separate sections for quite a few years. Although the separate sections provide more front and back pages on which to showcase stories and advertisements, the cost of printing separate sections and then inserting each section into the other sections was increasing right along with the cost of newsprint.

Printing each section resulted in a certain amount of “wasted” paper while the press was started and adjusted, and the wasted paper was simply becoming more and more valuable.

So this month, we’re debuting our single-section Advocate, which results in less paper waste and, thankfully, a slightly smaller printing bill.

The switch necessitates moving some of our favorite stories and features, so here’s a quick rundown of the biggest changes:

  • Our Entertainment and Coupon Section may look like a misprint to you, but it’s actually our intent to print the section “upside down” each month. (That positioning is necessary because of some complicated requirements of a newspaper press that really aren’t worth getting into here.) Since this is a special pull-out section designed for month-long use, we didn’t think you’d mind the rather unusual configuration.
  • To help minimize the confusion, you’ll find an Index of our stories and columns, along with corresponding page numbers, on Page 4 every month.

One of the advantages of our new format is that we’ll be able to print more color photos and advertisements, thanks again to some idiosyncrasies with the newspaper presses. Needless to say, we’re in a pretty competitive market here, so we’re trying to stay one step ahead – or at least even with – our many competitors’ for advertisers’ dollars and your reading time.

That’s a quick rundown of our changes this month. If you watch carefully, you’ll notice a few more next month as we try to streamline our paper’s overall appearance and make it a more readable, neighborhood-friendly publication.

I hope you’ll let me know if there’s anything else we can do to make the Advocate more valuable to you as a resource for neighborhood businesses and services and as a monthly chronicle of neighborhood news and events.

Ironing Out the Delivery Kinks

Thankfully, we receive quite a few calls every month from readers who didn’t receive an Advocate that month. We encourage these calls, because we can’t correct delivery problems with our contract delivery company unless we know about them.

It’s also good to know that people miss the Advocate when they don’t receive it – you can’t say that about most of the stuff that turns up in our mailboxes and on our doorsteps.

You should know, however, that we don’t deliver to every home in our neighborhood, and we don’t deliver to most apartments – not yet, anyway. We try to deliver to most homes, and we have a distribution map available in our offices, if you’re curious – but 100 percent accuracy simply isn’t possible with a door-to-door delivery system.

We’ve tried to install racks in neighborhood businesses for those of you who don’t receive door-to-door delivery yet, and you’re welcome to call our office and inquire about the closest rack location.

If you don’t receive an Advocate at your home one month, and if you have received an Advocate at your home in past months, call us at 341-3353 with your address, and we’ll try to determine what has gone wrong.

One thing to remember: If you have “No Trespassing” or “No Soliciting/No Handbills” signs on your front door, or if you have an unusually large dog or feisty cat, our delivery people have explicit instructions not to deliver an Advocate to you.

Now, every once in awhile, the delivery company makes a mistake, and someone who is supposed to receive an Advocate doesn’t, or someone who isn’t supposed to receive an Advocate does. When that happens, give us a call, and we’ll do our best to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

For whatever its worth, our delivery company heard about one home in particular that didn’t receive a paper on time last month, and I think they were especially sorry about that mistake.

I guess it just goes to show that even my home isn’t immune from an occasional delivery problem.