Another Dying Newspaper?

Monday, a week ago, I got a card in the mail from the South Florida SunSentinel, one of the two daily newspapers that I have subscribed to for the 23-plus years I’ve lived in my present home.  The card advised me that on or about August 31 my designated credit card would be charged $103.87 for the upcoming 13 week billing period, commencing September 5.

It was no surprise that this newspaper was increasing its subscription fee.  Behold the quarterly fees initiated during recent years:

  • 2008  – $  50.56
  • 2009  –      59.74
  • 2010   –     65.03
  • 2012   –     72.80
  • 2013   –     81.92
  • 2013   –   103.87 (latest)

The real surprise, other than to size of the increase, was buried is small and tiny print on both sides of the card.  The small print on one side advised that the subscription fee increase included a $19.63 transportation cost.   Hmmm….

In tiny print on the other side:   “Instead of receiving home  delivery service, you have the option to pick up your newspapers at one of our distribution centers avoiding transportation costs.  To arrange for pick-up,call our customer service center at ……..  Subscriptions may be picked up at the following locations every day between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.   ………..”

Like anyone would do that! 2013-09-04-517 The closest center to me would require a 15 to 20 minute drive in each direction and the cost of gasoline would far exceed the quarterly transportation cost.

The card contained only declarative statements pertaining to their subscription fees – not even one sentence of explanation or justification for the increase.  In fact it included advice that if readers desired to cancel their subscriptions they had better call customer service before the date of automatic renewal to avoid additional charges.  The whole tone was in effect – this is your increase, if you don’t like it, then cancel – – –   I accepted that offer!

I know that every newspaper in the country is trying to find ways to survive in an environment of decreasing circulation and advertizing revenues.  Newspapers have been dropping like flies for decades – first from the competition of television, and then magnified by the growth of the Internet.  A recent survey indicated that today only 9% of American adults get most of their news from newspapers.

I don’t doubt that the SunSentinel has serious financial problems.  If, instead, that post card had disclosed their financial condition, and how it regretfully mandates a significant increase in revenue in order to survive and continue to service the community, then I would have been receptive.  I certainly can afford the increase.  But their ‘here it is – take it or leave it’ attitude turned me off.

So now, as of tomorrow, I will be a one newspaper person.  Actually, I had subscribed to the SunSentinel mainly out of loyalty, because it is our local paper.  My other daily, the Miami Herald, is a far more respected and prestigious newspaper – one of the nation’s major dailies.  Oh, and their quarterly subscription is $67.53!!

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