UPDATE:  02/12/2022  1418  This weekend readers of the Utica Observer-Dispatch received the following letter from Sheila Rayam, Editor of the Utica Observer-Dispatch. The letter confirms that the Saturday print edition will be fully electronic beginning on March 12, 2022, as reported previously.

Undated Letter from Sheila Rayam, Editor of the Utica Observer-Dispatch regarding March 12, 2022 Electronic Edition
Portion of Undated Letter from Sheila Rayam, Editor of the Utica Observer-Dispatch regarding March 12, 2022 Electronic Edition

Original Story:

Call it the end of an era or adjusting to market trends, but however you choose to deliver the latest news from the Observer-Dispatch, it will be difficult to consider it a positive.

On Wednesday afternoon, the OD announced in an online story that beginning on March 12, it will no longer be printing a Saturday edition of the newspaper. Instead, the historic daily publisher will deliver an E-newspaper, a full digital replica of the Saturday newspaper delivered online, according to the OD article.

"With each passing year, more O-D subscribers access news content on mobile phones and other digital devices," Executive Editor Sheila Rayam said in the article. "Our new approach on Saturdays reflects the evolving world we live in."

Founded in 1817 as the Utica Observer (it became the Observer-Dispatch in 1922), the newspaper has been printing daily since 1848 through wars, the Great Depression, and the assassination of 2 U.S Presidents. The Observer-Dispatch also received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for investigative reporting into local corruption, along with its afternoon paper, The Daily Press in 1959. The Daily Press and OD merged into one daily morning paper in 1987.

"Our commitment to Mohawk Valley communities and to local news remains strong," Rayam added in the online story. "We're still publishing a full Saturday newspaper; it simply will be in digital and not paper form."

In May of 2012, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, one of America's oldest newspapers, began a nationwide trend when it announced that it would only be printing its paper 3 days a week. The cutback also came with a nearly 70-percent cut in staff. 3 months later, the Syracuse Post Standard, owned by the same company, cut its printing to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The papers still operate today on a 3-day printing schedule with a heavy emphasis online.

The OD has presented this latest news as a positive for its readers citing many benefits to the digital service, including being able to clip-cut-and-paste, "share articles and to adjust the text size." OD subscribers will also now have access to USA Today's network of e-Editions along with videos, audio features, among other benefits.

During the holiday season, the Observer Dispatch didn't print on Christmas and New Year's weekends. The Thursday edition on both holiday weekends served as the printed version of the paper for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Additionally, staff at the Observer Dispatch has been moving out of its iconic Oriskany Street location, making way for the building to be auctioned off with a starting bid of $150,000.  The building's auction is set for January 18th. The new office location to house a much smaller OD staff is expected to be announced soon.

On Wednesday, several other Gannett newspapers around the country made the same or similar announcements through news articles posted to their online sites as well, including cities like Des Moines, Nashville and Columbus.

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