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Newspapers: Still the Cheapest Date at the Media Dance

Congrats to my old friends at the Journal Star for (gulp) deciding to almost double the cost of my newspaper subscription. The not-so-dirty secret of the newspaper biz is they’ve been almost giving away the paper for years to anyone with the nerve to ask — a hopeless attempt to shore up declining circulation.
Thanks to a less-than-deserved inferiority complex, newspapers have long priced themselves as the least expensive gal on the paid media street corner. A week of the LJS used to cost just $2.50. Our weekly bills for cable/internet and family cell service are well over $30 each. Talk about a cheap date!!!
Not so much anymore, it seems, at least in Lincoln. The higher rate will cost me about $25 per month. The folks at Ninth and P need to know if that’s a fair price for the daily miracle on my morning doorstep.
The print newspaper business is only going to get tougher. If the paper isn’t worth the new going rate, they need to know that as well.
One gripe … I wish they would bundle free curbside recycling (add $10) with every 7-day subscription. It would make all of us print holdouts feel a little better about those trees murdered on our behalf. Think about it … maybe every paper that gets delivered should be undelivered as well?
(Just trying to help formulate a new even higher pricing strategy … the good folks in Davenport still have that incredibly foolish Pulitzer newspaper acquisition to pay for … I get it.)
Will fewer subscribers open the door for a more serious online challenge to the Journal Star’s local news franchise? Maybe. But not until someone figures out a way to make real money doing it.
And that is one mystery that hasn’t been solved yet.
It will be interesting to see how dramatically this strategy reduces circulation numbers. Fewer subscribers paying more is not a bad business move.
Good luck, all!
It’s a gutsy call, but one that needed to be made.


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