The State Journal-Register is rolling back deadlines for its print edition to 4 p.m.

The changes, set to take effect June 1, will apply both to the news and the sports departments. With deadlines for the next day's paper hitting before sundown, print subscribers will, presumably, no longer be able to rely on delivered newspapers to get high school sports scores, news from city council meetings or election results, given that polls will close hours after deadline arrives.

The deadline now is 9 p.m., sources say, which is two hours earlier than a year ago. In a recent memo to the paper's staff, executive editor Leisha Richardson wrote that the paper will publish "as much as we know at the content deadline."

"While this is different from how we've operated in the past, it does give us the opportunity to laser focus our digital-first footprint," Richardson wrote. "We'll also step up our enterprise reporting. That means finding the second-day angles to news and becoming more proactive with coverage. Some examples: Think of stories that explain or show the impact of an issue or happening in the community. Where are the heartfelt stories that cause people to act on behalf of others? Is there just a good yarn to tell?"

According to the paper's website, the SJ-R has eleven newsroom employees, including four news reporters and two sports reporters.

In her memo, Richardson did not say why deadlines are being rolled back. Gannett, the paper's parent corporation that owns more daily newspapers than any other company in America, is in economic distress. Amid pandemic, Gannett, with more than 260 daily newspapers in its portfolio, this spring announced chainwide furloughs for employees earning more than $38,000. The present Gannett was birthed last year via a merger between GateHouse Media and Gannett, with $1.8 billion in financing that comes with an interest rate of 11.5%. The stock price this spring plunged to less than $1 per share; when the merger closed last fall, the company's stock was trading at close to $7 per share.

Gannett, like other nationwide newspaper chains, has not been able to get a financial lifeline via the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to offer low-interest, forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Contact Bruce Rushton at

brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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