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Question Re: Print v E-Edition Newspaper Comics

The Lewiston Tribune, along with its sister paper The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, has had some delivery problems with the hard copy editions of their newspaper:

How we consume information is evolving. The same holds true for those of us in the business of sharing information.

That hit close to home in recent weeks with the interruption for some of the old-school way of receiving your Lewiston Tribune and Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

As many of you are aware, the labor shortage in this country hasn’t left the region unscathed. A shortage of contract carriers to deliver paper routes in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, on the Palouse and in our outlying rural areas led to the temporary stoppage of home delivery for some readers.

That left readers relying on the newspaper’s e-edition, which led to another problem:

Readers have been very understanding, but they also have rightfully pointed out some shortcomings that we are working to correct.

Because of copyright concerns, we were unable in the past to upload our four-page Sunday (Saturday in the Daily News) color comics section to the e-editions. It took a bit of friendly convincing, but the providers of such strips as “Doonesbury,” “Garfield” and “Non Sequitur” agreed the e-edition is a digital copy of our print offerings, only available to paid subscribers [emphases added], so no one’s copyrights were being infringed.

If you didn’t notice, the color comics section was available in the e-editions this last weekend and will be from now on.

Not sure about the legalities but it seems newspapers do not pay extra to run comic strips in their e-editions if they are paying the syndicates to run them in the dead tree hard copies when the electronic version is only available to the paper’s paid subscribers.

Is  that right?

If so…

Does The Washington Times-Herald pay extra just to show their daily comics page to the world?

Community Comments

#1 Mike Peterson
March/4/2022
@ 12:14 pm

Sunday strips are negotiated separately from dailies, and, for smaller newspapers, in packages rather than one-by-one. There are a couple — not many — companies that produce the interchangeable pre-prints that are shipped to papers well in advance of their distribution, sometimes with the local paper’s banner across Page One, sometimes just saying ‘Comics.”

This is why Sunday sections rarely match daily strips for most newspapers, and (in turn) why very few cartoonists carry story arcs across both dailies and Sundays.

When I redid the comics for a 25,000+ paper, I was stunned to find what we were paying for some of the tired old soldiers that filled the pages of our Sunday package. Nobody at our end had ever gone through it to see what was costing us what, and I imagine a lot of papers worked the same way — “A package is a package and I’ve got other things to fret over.”

Fortunately, I hit a moment when a new printer was rising and things were competitive, and I was able to renegotiate a custom package that not only aligned with our dailies but was markedly less expensive than the pre-fab package that was supposedly saving us so much.

That was a fleeting moment that I think would be hard to replicate, but it was another reason why I think the comics should be under the marketing department, not the newsroom. My background in media sales made a big difference in the conversations, and not because I was a tough guy but because I knew the language and got along very well with the syndicate people.

Which is a helluva long way to say “It’s a different contract with some additional people involved.” I’m not surprised they found a way through, but I’m also not surprised that it took an effort.

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