The first online-only Ranger editionApr 2, 2020 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher
This thing we're doing today is extraordinary in one sense, but quite ordinary in another.
First, the ordinary: Posting the day's Ranger online at our website is no big deal. We've been doing that for years.
As of this morning, there were 2,044 editions of the Ranger posted and waiting at dailyranger.com.
The individual story count is even higher. We're approaching 36,000 of those online.
The difference is that for every one of those online editions, there also exists a printed edition as well.
Today, for the first time, that won't be true.
It's just for one day, but it's still a milestone.
On this date -- Thursday, April 2, 2020 -- the Ranger will exist only as an electronic product, unless you count the photo copies of the pages that we'll have hanging in the front window of our office in downtown Riverton.
Thanks, coronavirus. This is what you've done to us.
Our business revenue has dropped off over the past month as many advertisers, themselves upheaved by the epidemic and its economic impact, have circled the wagons.
A couple of times zones away, meanwhile, the big mills that produce the huge rolls of paper we use to print The Ranger are in a period of uncertainty as well. We still have a few dozen rolls of the stuff down in the basement, but they're telling us future shipments might be delayed, that prices might have to be raised, or both.
News flash: We're just like most other businesses.
We have a payroll to make, we have raw materials to buy. We have a bank loan that must be covered.
And selling a few thousand copies of The Ranger for 50 cents apiece doesn't do it.
So today, we're going to produce the paper for the website today, but not for the front porch.
That's difficult, because the thing that sets us apart is the printed product, that object that we manufacture right here in our little factory five days a week.
Factory is the right word. In categorizing us for tax and regulatory purposes, the state of Wyoming considers The Ranger to be a place of manufacturing. We have that big machine in the back that runs like a truck, with gears and rollers, and a big motor. Raw materials go in, and a finished product comes out. We manufacture.
Today is the first time, I think, that we haven't printed The Ranger on a day we normally would have.
We've faced breakdowns, power failures and supply interruptions from time to time, but we've always run the press.
Actually, though, we did run the press today. Three times already. We printed the EXTRA, our free TV guide. We printed the Wind River News. And we printed the ADvertiser.
On Friday we'll load up The Ranger for its usual press run in the afternoon.
We aren't giving up printing the paper. We're just giving up printing the paper on Thursdays for a while.
Some people aren't going to like this. Others are going to think it's great. But most people won't care much one way or the other.
One thing I've learned through a newspaper career that now spans decades is that Ranger readers aren't nearly so interested in the inner workings of the newspaper business as I think they are. What they are interested in is reading the paper.
Today they can do it at dailyranger.com. Just click on the edition or the individual stories. It's all free from 4 p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday.
We'll be back tomorrow as usual -- and I'll be sure to walk back and listen to the big press rumble again.