In the last several months it would have been hard to overlook the reports of imminent demise of a group of major metro newspapers. The New York Times, reeling from a series of editorial and reporting faux pas, faces bankruptcy. The LA Times, slightly less flamboyant but equally ideologically committed, hovers near the abyss. Chicago Tribune, once a bastion of ultra-conservatism, has gone over to the dark side with predictable results. Other papers have closed their doors.
This week summary reports offer this:
Top 25 Newspapers in Decline
Notice that one conspicuous exception shows up in the top 25, the Wall Street Journal! That can be interpreted in a couple of ways. Maybe it means that wealthier folks still trust a newspaper. Maybe it means that newspaper readers who appreciate content over fluff, will seek it out and pay for it. Maybe it means conservatism has a market appeal and liberal blather can't be given away?
Double Digit Drops
My own Dallas Morning News reported more than 10% drop in circulation in the last reporting period. I gag each morning when I read it, because of the superficiality of the reportage. The front page drivel of a "human interest" story of some welfare slug or sympathetic serial killer on death row makes me wait until page four or six to find any real world or national news. Six pages out of eight in the sports section covering the pathetic Texas Rangers plunge to the American League cellar isn't always my cup of coffee. But, at least there's the comics and crossword.
Yesterday I got my bill from the DMN. They've got the solution for the declining circulation. It isn't better content. It isn't more news and less front page opinionizing. It isn't objective coverage.
Nope, it is a 100% increase in subscription costs! From an already relatively stiff $63 every three months they jumped to $126 for 90 days. No explanation. No apology letter with the bill. No story in the newspaper. Just a bill in the mail.
I called customer service. I asked if they thought this would help the declining circulation. The "no affect" response was symptomatic. I cancelled.
I hope anyone else with common sense who finds this a poor market strategy will cancel as well.
I'll be extending my WSJ subscription for another year. Too bad there aren't any comics.