This has been quite the year of change for everybody. Certainly it has been here at The Post. When the pandemic hit and the lockdown was put in place, we made the decision to suspend print and rush out our new daily E format ahead of schedule.
At the time most of our staff was on commission. The federal government was announcing plans to effectively double state unemployment benefits, so a large number of our employees figured that they could make just as much at home on unemployment as they could make on commission in a pandemic, so they quit.
I wasn't prepared for that. Fortunately, our core that had been with us a long time stayed and helped us make this gigantic switch from weekly to daily. We are now producing more than 10 times as many pages a week as we were then with a much smaller crew! It has been a long hard slog that hasn't really ended yet. But it is about to.
Subscriptions are way up, over 50% higher than before the pandemic. Our software had a lot of glitches to work through because we had to launch in beta mode, but it is now getting better and better. Better navigation, reading windows and linking, and by next week we think we will have achieved automatic linking of phone numbers. It's funny how sometimes things work out if you keep your head down and keep moving forward.
We are processing over a hundred job applications and will begin hiring next week. This will really help us to handle the increased workload as the state – we all hope – can successfully open up. I have been overseeing the hiring process while Publisher Michael Trogdon is rebuilding our entire tech infrastructure. He is moving us to a cloud-based network that will allow our employees to continue to work from home even after things get moving again.
I still can't believe that we are actually in hiring mode already, especially considering the front page story we have today: 39 million unemployed in America. In the blink of an eye. In hindsight, if we hadn't made the sudden switch to the new E Post, we would likely be part of that terrible number.
A lot of the things in our little company mirror the news in our paper today. We are launching what I think will be a great new section, Business and Finance. The many daily, high quality features from The Washington Post news service have really improved all of our sections. An added bonus is that this deal we made includes the Bloomberg News Service. They do really great with financial news.
"Business and Finance" debuts today. The feature story is about how all the big tech companies like Facebook are making the same move as we are to "work from home."
Another story in today's paper is about how the Senate GOP is figuring out how to get the unemployed back to work. The government took a big risk throwing so much money out so fast. It may have actually made unemployment worse by encouraging people not to work. That is a slippery slope and I think they underestimated how many people would jump to take it. Now the states are all broke and are making giant budget cuts. It's not sustainable.
As usual, we have a bunch of great columns today. I enjoyed the Local Guest Column from Beverly Jones, a consultant from Strongsville. She writes about something my wife and I have noticed: how interesting it is to see all these commentators and politicians like Joe Biden working from their homes.
Just like I really enjoy connecting the faces in our Street Talk (another record number of them are pictured today), it is fun to see the inside of these celebrity homes. You get an inside look at how they tick.
Speaking of how they tick, President Trump was in Michigan yesterday touring the Ford plant. We know the way he ticks: no mask. President Trump did not wear a mask when he toured the Michigan Ford plant, despite being asked to. Did he do this for himself or to inspire the nation to not be afraid? That is our Daily Post Reader Poll question for Friday.