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Some Newspapers Charging Home-Subscribers More For Ad-Filled Editions

November 28, 2013

Given today is a holiday around the home I will be super brief with an opinion about this news.  Long-time readers know how I feel.


The new, Scrooge-like practice of charging home-delivery subscribers MORE for the paper BECAUSE it’s fat with ads (“added value”), and therefore more lucrative for the publisher. Jim Romenesko posted the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s note to its EZ Pay subscribers: “Because of its large size (last year’s was 5 pounds), the Thanksgiving Day newspaper is the most expensive to produce and difficult to distribute. … Effective this year, we will charge a premium rate of $2.35 for the Thanksgiving Day newspaper. This charge will be debited to your newspaper account … Our Christmas Day holiday edition will be packed with after-holiday savings from your favorite retailers. … [W]e will charge a premium rate of $1.50.”

  1. November 28, 2013 10:10 PM

    Thanks for a very thoughtful comment, and as always I appreciate it.

  2. November 28, 2013 9:49 PM

    My husband and I buy our newspapers at the local Walgreens or PDQ. We choose to pay a premium rate because we just don’t think having a newspaper thrown into our driveway or on our front sidewalk is really home “delivery”. When I got both the Wisconsin State Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, I paid $6 — $3 for each paper. The bulk of the weight was ads, many of which were printed on expensive glossy (coated) paper. I even found doubles of some ads in both papers. That’s how they were stuffed by someone. I counted up the sections that had actual news stories — only 2 in the State Journal and 4 in the Journal Sentinel. There is considerable irony in having to pay a premium rate for advertisements, most of which now await recycling. (I actually looked at only a few of the ad supplements.)

    I recognize the symbiotic relationship between content and advertising. I understand the reason newspapers (and television programs and magazines) are produced is to sell advertising and generate revenue — and profits — for their owners. I also know the price paid for newspapers (subscription or over-the-counter purchase) doesn’t really cover all production costs. Advertising is key. But there is something inherently illogical and sort of greedy about charging so much for a Thanksgiving edition when it is filled with more advertising supplements than actual news content. It certainly makes it hard to pay the full price for a newspaper when it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a lot of ANY news in the publications — let alone news stories generated by local reporters.

    Next year, I think I’ll put the price of those newspapers into a Salvation Army kettle. So many ads at one time not only make it difficult to physically carry the newspaper, they tend to overwhelm — to the point where they’re just tossed out. It would be nice to think that newspaper owners could actually come up with a new business model — one that allowed them to hire staff to produce quality LOCAL content while allowing for a reasonable return on their investment and the ability to make a profit without having to charge exorbitant prices to customers who have a choice of media to consume. I wonder if that will become a reality in my lifetime….

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