The Eagle is here to stay in Wichita

The Wichita Eagle may be eventually moving from one location to another in downtown Wichita, but it’s not leaving Wichita itself. (June 21, 2016)
The Wichita Eagle may be eventually moving from one location to another in downtown Wichita, but it’s not leaving Wichita itself. (June 21, 2016) File photo

I was on the sidewalk in front of our office on East Douglas a few weeks ago when a woman told me this about The Wichita Eagle: “Oh, I didn’t think you were here anymore.”

Our president and publisher, Roy Heatherly, attended a function recently and was asked, “Did you drive over from Kansas City?”

Beccy Tanner, a reporter at The Eagle, teaches a class in the community about the Chisholm Trail. A woman in the class asked her this month whether she had come back to Wichita for the class.

“I thought The Eagle had moved to Kansas City,” the woman said.

I have been in Wichita for nearly three months. I’ve met many people in the community and heard from dozens of readers through phone calls and e-mails.

I’ve learned that there is a pervasive misconception about The Eagle and where we do business.

I’d like to set the record straight, and I invite you to share this information if you hear that misconception repeated.

Here are the facts:

▪ The Eagle did move the printing – and only the printing – of the newspaper to our sister paper in Kansas City earlier this year.

▪ Our newsroom and advertising staffs and other key positions remain solidly based in downtown Wichita.

▪ The move of our printing process to Kansas City was a strategic decision. Newspapers across the country have consolidated print operations as they position themselves for growth in the digital world.

The move was painful because it affected people’s jobs and lives. It affected our newspaper and our readers, as well, because it requires an earlier deadline to truck the papers to Wichita.

Printing presses are amazing machines that captivate people. Through the years, thousands of visitors to The Wichita Eagle all wanted to see it roar. But for those who worked in the Eagle's press room, it was about family. (video by Jaime Green)

But had we not moved our printing, other painful changes would have been required to maintain our financial viability. Those changes would have affected our readers’ experience in a more dramatic manner.

The early deadline has been most noticeable in sports, where we have missed the results of night games. We continue to tweak our operations to squeeze every possible minute out of our timeline.

And we have extended our deadline for things such as high school football on Friday nights, Kansas and Kansas State football on Saturday nights and the presidential and vice presidential debates.

It is a difficult balancing act between getting the latest news and sports reports and getting the paper in your driveway before it’s too late to be useful. It is far from an exact science.

I can say that we have not missed a major news story due to the earlier deadlines since I began work here on Aug. 1.

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And I would note that subscribers to the newspaper get full access to our website, Kansas.com, where all the latest news and sports stories are posted up to the minute.

We routinely updated the electronic edition of the newspaper – where you can read from images of actual newspaper pages – with reports from night Kansas City Royals games and box scores from all Major League Baseball games.

All you have to do to gain full access online is activate your account. If you need help with that, drop me an e-mail or give me a call.

You can also download our free app, which makes access even easier from mobile devices.

You will hear news of The Wichita Eagle moving in the coming months, but it will be from one location to another in downtown Wichita as we look for a building that better suits our needs and positions us for the future.

We continue to be the dominant voice for our community and provide an unmatched menu of in-depth local news, sports, features and commentary in The Wichita Eagle. The same is true of Kansas.com, which is also the source for local breaking news, videos, photo galleries and blogs.

Between the newspaper and Kansas.com, we reach more people than the printed newspaper alone ever did.

The Wichita Eagle is part of the fabric of our community. Our employees live here, shop here, have kids in school here and contribute to our community through civic organizations and churches.

All of that said, I assure you that The Wichita Eagle is decidedly – emphatically – here to stay.

Steve Coffman is the executive editor/vice president of news for The Eagle and Kansas.com. Reach him at scoffman@wichitaeagle.com or 316-268-6405. Follow him on Twitter at @SteveCoffman1.