By Jennifer Stultz
And just like that we ripped the band-aid off something new that has been in the works for some time but not considered public information until today. Hopefully by the time readers make it to the back page of this weekly newspaper they will realize the Pratt Tribune, the Kiowa County Signal, and The St. John News have merged into one beautiful and efficient collaboration now called the Tri-County Tribune.
Three papers have become one in order to capitalize on printing cost savings and to re-energize a local readership and advertising base. This is an exciting time and as a lifelong journalist in close relationship with south central Kansas news, views and people, I kind of like this new idea.
The fresh look of the Tri-County Tribune front page pops with color, the local stories and inside articles reflect a long-standing commitment to bringing hometown news to the heartland, which is where we all live, whether home is in Pratt, Kiowa or Stafford County. And that sunflower on the front exemplifies the benefits of digging in, hanging on, and blooming where planted.
The old Pratt Tribune, the former St. John News, and the tornado-tested Kiowa County Signal haven’t been lost. They just join a number of other past newspapers for this area that served well and long with a spirit that continues on in the pages of the now Tri-County Tribune.
Newspaper name changes really aren’t something new. At one time the Pratt Tribune was called the Union Dispatch, several decades were recorded as the Pratt County News, there was the Pratt Daily Dispatch, and the Pratt County Union.
The first newspaper of Pratt County was called the Pratt County Press, printed in 1878 in Iuka, the county seat at that time. Change happens over time, all the time. It is inevitable. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is easy to adjust to something new and better, but once the band-aid is ripped off, so to speak, one can see that most changes are for the better. Pointing fingers, calling names and pouting past bedtime rarely serve any positive purpose.
In the case of the Pratt Tribune turned Tri-County Tribune, I think we can all agree that those who take the time to read these pages each week are far better off than those who don’t.
It always makes me cringe when someone glibly states that they don’t read anymore, or that there hasn’t been a Pratt Tribune for years. That is just so wrong.
When the Pratt Tribune went from three issues per week to one during GateHouse or Gannett ownership years ago (there really wasn’t much difference between the two), subscription numbers dropped as people insisted they could get their news elsewhere. And in some ways that was true. The age of social media was upon us and phone scrolling suddenly became so much cooler than turning printed pages and savoring words along with that morning coffee.
But through it all, as social media platforms came and went, as Facebook algorithms spoon-fed pre-determined news choices, local newspapers like this one continued quietly and consistently serving their loyal customers. News about real people, with real stories backed by real facts continues to be the backbone of what drives communities forward.
Inevitably, when it comes down to what really matters, the statement of “I read it in the newspaper,” almost always precedes the story of the anonymous donor or the miracle check in support of a community need.
There is much to remember and like about the Pratt Tribune, Kiowa County Signal and St. John News. There is much to appreciate about the continuity and opportunities opening up with the new Tri-County Tribune. We will have a digital presence. Coming soon will be a story contest for local authors, Remember When features, the usual Veteran’s Day honors and fall event coverage. Advertisers take note: you get so much more bang for the buck in a paper with expanded coverage.
It’s going to be good. I hope you smile when you see the redesigned front page of the Tri-County Tribune. I hope you like how the name rolls off the tongue and keep that subscription current. I hope those who let their subscription lapse for one reason or another, come back to see the benefit of getting local news, in the mailbox, consistently every week. We’ll be here, serving each community as best we can and connecting the dots between us all so we can live and thrive together like the state sunflower.
Please be sure to call Deb Jacobsen for any circulation and subscription needs at 316-283-1500, and enjoy the new Tri-County Tribune! We are here for you and thank you in advance for your continued readership and support. There are several places around town to pick up a copy of the Tri-County Tribune and keep up with the local news, including Dillons, Walmart, several gas-station/convenience stores and in hotel lobbies. We are working on website upgrades and will soon be able to refer digital readers to the new and improved online location.