Council to Consider Newspaper Contract

Social media, digital tools still no match for old-fashioned printed paper for Hyattsville newsletter, says city official.

The Hyattsville City Council is set to consider a new, slightly larger contract with the Hyattsville Life & Times to distribute 12 editions of the city newsletter over the next year.

"I recognized that this is a consistently controversial matter; however, I feel strongly that if we are going to continue to mail two print copies of a newsletter each month, this represents the only practical way to accomplish that goal," wrote City Treasurer and Acting City Administrator Elaine Stookey in a memo to city council regarding the contract. 

The city distributes 24 editions of the newsletter every year. Of those, 12 are printed and distributed in the centerfold of the monthly edition of the Hyattsville Life &Times, which is mailed to every address in the city.

Under the new contract that would cost $2,200 per issue, or $26,400 per year, up 4.5 percent over last year. 

Stookey said that buying the insert is far less expensive than producing all 24 newsletters in-house. 

Stookey also praised the design work performed by the staff at the Hyattsville Life & Times. 

"Their designer is quick, and produces error-free drafts on the first go-round," wrote Stookey. "Supplying text only cuts the staff time required to produce an email by more than half."

The city has considered distributing its newsletter through the The Gazette, but that paper was unable to meet the home delivery requirement. 

And while the city's digital footprint has increased over the past few years, Stookey wrote that "concerns about residents willingness to access information electronically persist."

Stookey said that the advertising in the Hyattsville Life & Times has been effective in getting word out about city events. 

Stookey's memo revealed that the city has a "gentleman's agreement" whereby advertising for city events or services are not placed on pages containing controversial articles about municipal business. 

"Certainly some of the editorial content can be jarring – it is a community paper, and it represents a broad spectrum of community ideas," wrote Stookey. "I think our residents are sophisticated enough to recognized that this is the case."

The city council meets on Monday, Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Hyattsville Municipal Building on Gallatin Street. 

susie August 05, 2012 at 12:17 PM
I strongly believe that print is the way to go in order to reach those who don't or won't access content online. That said, the city could do much more to promote accessing information online. For example, the city could use its Yahoo group to message that the latest news has been published (and speaking of, the latest paper online is: Hyattsville Reporter (Official City Newsletter) - January 11, 2012 ). The city could also use the Yahoo group to drive traffic to website and FB page re: NNO, etc. All, of course, to better inform and engage residents.
Jim Groves August 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM
What's the deal with the Gazette? I see that there is a delivery to every house a block or two from me but not on my street. Do they deliver to Hyattsville or not?
Mark G August 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Print may be an effective way to reach some members of the community as susie suggests (also agree with the suggestions to increase online access). However the model used by the Gazette of delivering papers to every house in the city is wasteful. The publisher may have calculated that the advertising revenues attracted by having higher circulation numbers (through the "blanket delivery" technique) make the cost of throwing papers at every doorstep worthwhile. Unfortunately many papers go unretrieved (often for weeks) creating a litter problem, not to mention those papers go directly into the re-cycle (or worse the trash) bins withougt being read. Some communities are now considering having phone books delivered on an "opt-in" basis: http://earth911.com/news/2011/05/20/san-fran-passes-yellow-pages-opt-in-law/ I would like Hyattsville to consider such a measure and extend to all unsolicited deliveries.


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