For years, South County residents "in the know" knew that you could get Thursday's copy of the South County Independent or North East Independent on Wednesday night — hours before everyone else's papers arrive in the mailbox.
But with increasing demand for newspapers to be as fresh as possible, the two sister papers of the Newport Daily News will go to press at 5 p.m. on Wednesday instead of 1 p.m.
That means papers will be delivered to newsstands early Thursday morning instead of Wednesday night.
Independent Newspapers Managing Editor Liz Boardman announced the change on Thursday and said though early bird readers might be bummed, it is a positive change for the paper.
"The shift allows us to deliver more up-to-date news in the print edition each Thursday," Boardman wrote in an editor's note to readers. "For example, the verdict in the Patrick 'Tim' McDonald case returned just after the Jan. 16 edition of the South County Independent came off the press – too late to include it. Some weeks, Tuesday night meeting stories don’t make it into the paper because of the timing of page production."
Now, "we can offer the freshest paper possible each Thursday — giving our readers even more reason to pick up a copy or subscribe," Boardman said.
The change coincides with changes happening at the Newport Daily News, which is shifting to a morning daily format instead of an afternoon daily. The papers share the same press and both are hoping to accommodate advertisers and readers with more timely stories.
Although the Independent newspapers operate Web sites — and even upgraded them in recent years — they still operate primarily as a print weekly. Breaking news and alerts have been appearing on the Web site on a more frequent basis, though.
Editor's note: I am a former employee of the South County Independent, where I was a reporter for nearly 10 years.