Rising costs impact the Courier as longtime staffer is laid off

by Peter Weinberger | pweinberger@claremont-courier.com

As publisher of the Claremont Courier, the financial decisions I make come with enormous highs and lows. When times are difficult, weighing the needs of the individual with the needs of the company can be excruciating. And there are rarely any good answers.

Such was the case with Steven Felschundneff, who first came to the Courier as a photographer and photo editor with a great deal of daily newspaper experience. Unfortunately, Steven was laid off this week due to rising costs. It was a heart-wrenching decision for me with no other options.

Steven is a longtime Claremonter. Over the years he worked a variety of jobs here, especially during the pandemic, when we were quite shorthanded. Recently, he covered the city beat, reporting on government, politics, and the City Council. Steven’s photographs are featured throughout our popular new “Timeless Claremont” coffee table book of photography. I valued my time working with him and won’t forget his contributions to the Courier.

The Courier employs a host of talented people who truly care about Claremont and are motivated to contribute to the greater good. That said, we need time to bring new advertising and marketing plans to fruition (“Timeless Claremont” being one of them), while providing our new talented Advertising Director Anna Hoy time to develop new relationships with local businesses. This just doesn’t happen overnight.

But the news is not all gloomy. We already have more new advertisers than we have had in years. And our ad buy support from Claremont realtors has never been higher. Ever!

Our Editor Mick Rhodes has been working on how to approach our news coverage with our current staff by setting priorities on a week-to-week basis. Our editorial staff has always been nimble, willing to do whatever is needed to help inform the public. We’ll lean into this as we navigate the near future.

If you need proof of our ability to scramble on short notice, I encourage you to check out our coverage of Tuesday’s contentious City Council meeting in this edition, or at claremont-courier.com. Cover, report, publish, update: this is where fact-based journalism shines.

We still have widespread support, a wide base of paid subscribers, a vital website, twice-weekly newsletters, podcasts, videos, and more. Our donations increased 25% in 2023, making up about 17% of overall revenue. But as I’ve said in columns past, increased costs of publishing swallowed this entirely.

So what cost-cutting measures can you expect in the near term? For one, we are still looking to move our offices to a smaller, less costly, more suitable location. Barring that, we may end up sharing our current newsroom with a new tenant. Post-pandemic, with the new way many of us are working remotely, our office is simply too large. Another change is we will likely establish a soft paywall on our website for our most popular stories. We will also be outsourcing our online subscription and payment portal, which will result in fewer headaches for our customers, and less time spent managing the system in-house. After all, the Courier can’t survive if readers can’t compensate us for our work.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: we face many tough obstacles, as does the entire print media industry. We never asked our readers to support the Courier solely as a nonprofit. The plan has always been to utilize a mix of carrying our own weight through innovative advertising, and publishing award-winning journalism that proves we are worth subscribing and donating to. It’s a shared responsibility we take seriously.

For those of you who have supported us with subscriptions and donations over the years, we could have not survived without you. There’s a reason we became a nonprofit, and so far the decision has been invaluable in keeping us in business. Your generosity has really made a difference!

If you would like to talk further or have more questions or concerns, please send me an email at pweinberger@claremont-courier.com. Be sure to include your phone number.


1 Comment

  1. Ben & Karen Bull

    Damn. That’s frustrating news about Steven. Times have surely changed since the 1960s and real journalism. Thank you for trying to keep the Courier afloat. Good luck!

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