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The times they are a changing

December 29, 2020

Best Times Editor Gerald HayIt has been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s not so.

My career began in newspapers 46 years ago (that’s a “good grief Charlie Brown” reality check in writing this column!) when I used an ancient manual Royal typewriter to write stories. The two longtime reporters at the newspaper had modern technology – electric typewriters. The stories on paper were sent to typesetters, using Linotype machines, and transformed words on paper into hot lead type for the printing presses. 

Times have changed in the industry since then. Hot lead yielded to offset printing when computers started to come in, and typewriters went out. More advance computer-based technology made offset obsolete when things went all digital.

Nowadays, I can sit at my desk, now remotely from home because of the coronavirus, using a laptop to write, edit and layout the entire issue before sending the entire magazine file online to a prepress process in Michigan with the final file being forwarded to the printer in Liberty, Missouri.

Change is constant in life, the weather and often the ways things are done. The challenge at hand is how to deliver The Best Times to readers by the best means possible in the 21st century while keeping an eye on costs for our bimonthly publication as population of aging adults in Johnson County grows.

With the start of the New Year, The Best Times is launching a digital option of the magazine for readers. 

By providing their email address, readers will receive a link to directly access The Best Times on their smart phones, iPads, laptops or home computers. The link will connect readers to both the latest edition and past issues of the magazine.

Signing up for the option is as easy as clicking on jocogov.org/TheBestTimes, completing a short form and submitting the information. The form asks for name, mailing address and email. 

Once that information is received and placed into The Best Times’ database, readers who choose the digital option will no longer receive the print edition by mail.

That’s important in addressing the rising costs of printing and mailing The Best Times with a readership that has increased by almost 50% since the launch of the magazine format in mid-2014. During that time, four postal rate increases have occurred. Another rate increase for mailing periodicals will take effect on Jan. 24 with anticipated 2-4% higher mailing costs in 2021.

For the most part, The Best Times has been a cost-neutral publication. That is becoming more challenging. Having more readers who prefer reading their magazines online opt in for the digital option and opt out of the mailing list will help in keeping The Best Times on a steady keel in the future.

Back in 1964, Bob Dylan said it best: “The Times They Are a Changing.” The publishing industry knows that for sure with the internet and rapid technological changes in communications. Whether it’s digital or traditional print, the purpose of The Best Times remains unchanged – to
inform, educate and support 60-plus adults in Johnson County. 

That has been the mission of The Best Times for going on 39 years.

We also know some Best Times readers may like the online option; others might not. That’s why we will offer both options. However, the opportunity has allowed us to be innovative in contemporary ways to inform readers by traditional print and the ever-changing digital age.

The times they are a changing, indeed. 

Unless a form is submitted, readers will continue to receive their magazine in the mail. If a form is received with a reader’s email, a link to the magazine will be sent to the reader for a digital version of The Best Times and no printed issue will be mailed.

Taking advice from Bob Dylan once again, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” just let us know if you want to change how you receive the magazine in the future – switching from mail to email.

The option remains up to each reader.

The times they are a changing.