By ROCCO MAGLIO
HERNANDO SUN WRITER
When we started The Hernando Sun newspaper more than five years ago, something that never crossed our mind was the constant diligence required to make sure our newspapers were not hidden. We naively thought that once our newspapers were in stores the quality of the product would be what mattered.
Over the past five years we have seen many creative attempts to hide our newspapers. We have had racks hidden behind the Tampa Bay Times’ rack. You literally had to move their rack out of the way to get to the Hernando Sun. Many times it is more subtle with the Hernando Sun rack pushed out of the way, so you don’t see it unless you look for it. We had a newspaper rack disappear from the Walmart on US-19. Last week the replacement rack was moved outside the store to the foyer where the carts are stored. This is not the first time that our rack has been moved there.There have been shopping carts placed directly in front of our rack blocking access.
It is not just the racks that are hidden. We constantly are having to remove coupon books and other newspapers from the top of our newspaper. There have been signs put on the Tampa Bay Times that hang down to cover our newspaper. Our newspapers are often illegally moved out of the store to this insecure area.
These hidden newspapers have real consequences. One week we sell 50 newspapers in a store and the next week we sell only a few. This means that we have a large number of returns from the retail stores, even though we only place the amount we are used to selling in the store.
The company that audits our circulation, Alliance for Audited Media, dings us for our high percentage of returns, so this is not happening to all newspapers.
We have even lost advertisers, because they went to the store and were unable to find our newspaper.
More importantly, the act of hiding our newspaper negatively impacts the amount of information available to residents on what is happening in Hernando County. It prevents the county citizens from receiving another perspective on what is happening in the county.
You can help us by looking at the newspapers when you pass by. If you see something that is not right, we would really appreciate it, if you would fix it if you can, moving coupon books somewhere else. If you see a bigger issue, please call us at 352-593-4382 or you can email me at [email protected].