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Hillsboro's local paper is moving to a Wednesday publication date and returning to paid delivery.

STAFF PHOTO: MARK MILLER - This is the last Friday issue of the Hillsboro Tribune. From now on, you can find the paper on local racks Wednesdays.Even in the best of times, journalism is a difficult business.

It's a reality that many in the industry would rather not recognize, but it's even truer in this fast-paced digital world. Too often, we've heard stories about tentpoles in our industry making deep staff cuts — newspapers like The New York Times, The Washington Post and even The Oregonian, which announced this week it was laying off nearly a dozen reporters in what would be the sixth round of layoffs at the daily newspaper since 2010.

Ask any newspaper publisher in the country and they'll tell you: Every day is a challenge. More and more, newsrooms are learning to cope with the fact that while demand for trusted, quality local news has never been higher, the growing on-line readership does not bring the same revenue as print products. The Hillsboro Tribune is no exception.

These aren't things businesses would normally advertise, but as journalists, we demand transparency from our sources and elected officials, and we want to be as transparent as we can about our plans. And starting next month, we're implementing a handful of changes at our newspaper that should help us bring you the best in local news for years to come.

The most important of these changes is the day we hit the streets.

Since its inaugural issue on Sept. 7, 2012, the Hillsboro Tribune has published on Fridays. But starting Feb. 7, new issues of the newspaper will drop on Wednesdays, to better align with the needs of our readers and the availability of our press. 

The reason for this change is simple: Under our old publication schedule, the newspaper had to be designed two days before our actual publication date in order to fit with the schedule of our press in Gresham, which prints dozens of other Pamplin Media Group newspapers.

For years, this has effectively stopped us from covering events that occurred on Wednesdays, Thursdays and even Fridays. By changing our publication date to Wednesdays, we'll be able to cover the news more effectively, giving us the ability to write stories in a way that's more relevant to our readers.

Other changes are also coming. For the past year, the Tribune has been experimenting with free home delivery for our readers through the U.S. Postal Service. To do that and meet federal postal regulations at the same time, we were forced to pull thousands of copies of the paper off our newspaper racks around town. This, admittedly, saved us money in printing and delivery, but readers weren't happy — and they let us know. The convenience of free home delivery for some of you has meant thousands of other readers have been unable to find the Hillsboro Tribune on newsstands around town. We want people to discover us, and we want to ensure that readers are able to find a copy of the newspaper wherever they are in Hillsboro or the surrounding area.

We recognize this change will be hard on those who have enjoyed getting a free newspaper in their mailbox. But going back to a paid home delivery system will allow the Tribune to cover the cost of those subscriptions and increase the total number of newspapers available to the community.

Copies on our racks and newsstands will continue to be free, and we'll be adding more newsstands to the community over the next several weeks. A complete list of pickup locations will be available on our website soon.

Subscribers who wish to continue their home delivery can do so for $20, less than half the price of our old yearly subscriptions and just enough to cover our postal costs.

Finally, we believe strongly that newspapers are a reflection of their communities. If Hillsboro is the seat of power in Washington County, then its newspaper should reflect that role. Hillsboro has always had its sights on the bigger picture, and our newspaper should as well. Starting in February, the Tribune will expand its focus to include the wider Washington County community, offering news from the Hillsboro area as well as more rural western Washington County.

An enhanced sports section covering western Washington County means more coverage of our local collegiate-level Pacific University and the Portland area's minor league baseball team, the Class A Short Season Hillsboro Hops.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that it costs money to have quality, professional journalists reporting the facts and featuring the great people, places and organizations in our community.

Access to reliable, accurate news is more important than ever. Since our first issue, we have offered the Hillsboro community credible, informative news for everyone. 

Many of you have written us to say "thank you" for continuing a tradition of community journalism that stretches back generations in Hillsboro. We are honored to do it and humbled by your support.

One way we hope to keep our readers informed and remain financially stable is through a digital membership program. Tribune supporters will be helping to provide local news to the area in a way we've never been able to before. We'll have more information when it launches later this month, but we are excited by the prospect of making closer connections with our readers.

We have a lot of work to do to make all this happen, but we're committed to keeping the Tribune the same great newspaper you've been turning to for years. We have big ideas for what this paper can become, but we can't do it alone. We will continue to rely on our community to support local journalism.

If you value the work we do, we'd love for you to subscribe, advertise with us or join our online membership program.

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