Starting Thursday, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram will combine the first two sections of the paper in a bid to save money and feature local content more prominently, executive editor Jim Witt wrote to Poynter Tuesday.
Witt told Poynter in an email that combining the two sections every day except Sunday will give the Star-Telegram flexibility in managing its newshole:
With two sections, our space for national/foreign and local was always the same. If we had more local news than budgeted, the only option we had was to add pages (and expense) to the second section.
Now, because there will be just one section, I can decide day-by-day how many pages to devote to local news, business news or national/international.
Three years ago, the paper combined the two sections on Monday and Tuesdays and found it was “a great tool” for organizing the paper, Witt wrote.
The shift will also allow the Star-Telegram to “highlight the best journalism and advertising information” for readers, Witt wrote Tuesday in a note to readers.
Reader surveys have always shown the first section of the paper has the highest readership of any section in the Star-Telegram — which is why a majority of our advertisers ask to have their ads there.
That’s also why we want to move our local news stories there. They’ll get noticed more.
Other McClatchy papers, including the Kansas City Star, the News & Observer, and The Charlotte Observer have adopted similar combined sections in the past. In 2008, The New York Times announced it would combine its metro section with the A section to save money. The Virginian-Pilot made a similar announcement this summer.
The opinion and business sections, which previously went in the local section, will be moved to the A section, along with the weather map. The Star-Telegram will now have three sections on Monday through Saturday: the A section, Sports and Life.
“Like all papers, we’re looking for smart ways to control legacy costs so we can focus more resources on digital and this helps us do that,” Witt wrote.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to The Charlotte Observer as the “Charlotte News and Observer.”