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Council to Consider Options on Future Communications with the Loss of Gazette

After the Gazette announced its decision to discontinue publication on June 12, 2015, I asked to have a worksession to discuss exploring other ways to disseminate information to its residents.

The city currently has budgeted about $1,562 per issue to distribute the Municipal Scene through the Gazette, and pursuing other options will likely cost significantly more. The Council will discuss a number of options:

(1) Direct Mail Version: One option is to mail a new version of the Municipal Scene to all single-family and multi-family residences and businesses, similar to what the City did prior to contracting with The Gazette. This would total approximately 10,000 pieces of mail. Staff time should be roughly equivalent to what it was with The Gazette; however the lead time will increase to 17-19 days, which is significantly more than the 4 days we had with the Gazette. This additional lead time will negatively impact the timeliness of content and therefore influence what we can include in the mailed version of the Municipal Scene. Size/cost options are A. $3,900/occurrence: Tri-fold (11” x 25.5” tri-fold full color no bleed) Municipal Scene B. $4,400/occurrence: Bi-fold (11” x 17” bi-fold full color no bleed)

(2) Contract with a Local Newspaper: The City Council could explore contracting with an existing newspaper and possibly provide services ranging from a business advisory and editorial role to a new local newspaper. The model could be similar to that used in Hyattsville and Greenbelt. The Board of the Hyattsville Life and Times (HL&T) has expressed interest in discussing with College Park a possible relationship that could support a new local newspaper. For example, HL&T could work with an existing College Park organization to set up a newspaper or newsletter, or possibly develop a separate newspaper for College Park.The City’s cost for the three-pages of content in the HL&T is estimated at $2,390 per edition, or $28,680 annually. The City would not pay anything additional for the layout or for mailing the newspapers.

(3) Electronic-Only Municipal Scene: The City could decide to continue with an electronic-only version of the Municipal Scene that would be distributed through Constant Contact and/or other electronic means, and could also be posted on the City’s website and bulletin board. Staff time would significantly increase with this option. Costs and lead time would be minimal.

The Council will discuss these options at tonight’s worksession.

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