Friday, June 1, 2012

Free news: Democrat-Gazette raising daily price 100 percent

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 9:52 AM

GOING UP: D-G prices rising to $1 daily and $2 Sunday.
  • GOING UP: D-G prices rising to $1 daily and $2 Sunday.
I noticed that Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Publisher Walter Hussman's letter to readers about an increase in the cost of a single copy of the paper is available for free on the newspaper's website, unlike most of the content in the print edition.

So, check the freebie out.

The learned Durango and I had already covered much of the ground in a discussion recently on the death of American newspapers. Hussman has kept up circulation by heavily subsidizing it — particularly in cheap costs for subscribers out in the state who are of marginal value to advertisers. But the continuing decline of advertising dollars in American newspapers has forced him to try to make up some of the difference in circulation cost.

Three things:

1) If single-copy prices are going up, can subscription prices be far behind? Hints were dropped:

But with continued advertising declines, we can see no other way to do this other than fundamentally changing our revenue base. In the future, we will have to rely more heavily on revenue from readers and subscribers.

Many other newspapers are already doing this. Today the Dallas Morning News costs over $36 a month for home delivery, and the San Francisco Chronicle costs over $46 a month. While we do not believe we need prices that high, clearly more of our revenue will need to come from our readers.

2) Did it strike anyone else as curious that, in a 1,000-word letter about an increase of newspaper price to $1 daily and $2 Sunday that the newspaper failed to note the previous price?

Happy to oblige: The price was 50 cents daily and $1.25 Sunday, meaning a 100 percent rate increase daily and 60 percent on Sunday. Let government try to slip one like that past the DOG editorialists.

3) The Arkansas Times remains free at newsstands and on the web. We have no plans to raise prices. And we'll continue to provide timely reporting that you don't always find in the much bigger daily paper. Such as: The UA's decision to move a lucrative soft drink contract from Coke to Pepsi? On-line here Wednesday night. Day-before-yesterday's news made the D-G this morning.

PS — Here's a national newspaper trend story that fits right in.

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