Out of the gutter, into the mail

By Phyllis Pfeiffer

I’ve been back in La Jolla and at The La Jolla Light for three months, and I have reconnected with many readers and advertisers who have shared with me what The Light has meant to them over the years. Former Town Council President Anne Cleveland described a shoe box given to her by her mother filled with clippings from The Light chronicling her childhood achievements. Several successful real estate agents conveyed that their businesses rose to prominence through consistent promotion in the La Jolla Light.

I have appreciated the warm welcome home that many have extended to me because The Light, which has been part of the tapestry of La Jolla for almost a century, is where I began my career in journalism.

In asking people about what changes they would like to see made at The Light, I have been repeatedly asked the same four questions:

1) Will you publish more news about the La Jolla community?

2) Will you return the La Jolla Light to a “real” size newspaper?

3) Will you require people to pay for subscriptions?

4) And will you return to delivering the Light by mail?

We are in the process of planning and implementing increased coverage of all the elements that make La Jolla such a special place to live. The recent addition of the weekly “Ten Questions” feature has been well received. Stay tuned to see what else we have in store for readers, though admittedly this area will require the most time to bring to fruition.

The answer to the second two questions is “no” and let me explain why. I assume what readers meant by a “real” size newspaper is the standard broadsheet format used, for example, by the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal. I’ll make a wager that in five years there won’t be a newspaper in America that is 23 inches tall. There certainly isn’t in Europe. Most European newspapers have already converted to the tabloid format that readers prefer because of its more compact, easy-to handle size.

Even the London Times is now in tabloid format. While the term tabloid may hold a negative connotation in some American circles, many daily metropolitan newspapers in the U.S. are planning to cut down their page size in the near future.

As to charging for subscriptions, please do not equate free with cheap. With the proliferation of free content on the Internet, many media outlets are re-examining the paid content model. They are questioning whether it continues to be viable. Consequently, we will not charge a fee for delivery of The Light in our main distribution area and will continue to offer subscriptions for a nominal fee to interested readers outside the area. The cost of producing a newspaper is offset by the advertising content, so you can demonstrate your appreciation for receiving the La Jolla Light for free by patronizing the local businesses and professionals who promote their goods and services in the paper.

You already know the answer to question four because you received your Light today in the mail, not at the end of the driveway, in the gutter, on the lawn or in a flower bed.

You never again have to worry about The Light piling up in your driveway while you’re on vacation. We think you deserve this level of gold standard distribution and our advertisers deserve to know exactly where their advertising message is being delivered. Now readers in gated communities and condominiums, previously unreachable by carrier distribution, can enjoy receiving the La Jolla Light delivered directly to their homes.

In addition to supporting our local advertisers, we would appreciate your thanking your postal carrier for delivering the La Jolla Light to your mailbox. I personally want to thank our La Jolla postmaster, Jeff Olsen, who was invaluable in helping me to resolve the complexities of complying with postal regulations. Putting the Light back in the mail also fulfills another goal, becoming “greener.” Now, the La Jolla Light, printed on recycled paper and delivered in your mailbox, can eliminate the plastic bag.

Going into the mail, then, is a win for our advertisers, our readers and the planet.