I have been a subscriber to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for nearly twenty years.
They recently announced their new pricing. It includes a substantial increase in cost with a mandatory on-line subscription (in other words- magazines offer two formats- they offer a print copy with free online access to subscribers for a given price. They offer an online only option for those who want that- which costs less than the print version. The D&C offers ONE option- you get print and online or you get nothing- and if you don't utilize the online, too bad for you as you're paying for it).
An odd decision given rising gas prices and stagnant wages.
Apparently they consulted with the post office which said the best solution to falling demand is to raise prices.
I read an analysis of the move by an expert- he said he thought it was a bold move and could save the paper OR they could lose 30 to 40% of their subscribers. Guess they believe it's better to burn out than to fade away (google it, Deep).
They've lost one long-time subscriber. I cancelled. They sent me an email suggesting I give the new model a chance. Why? The value of the online service is zero point zero- I have used it twice in the past year- the two times the carrier failed to get the paper to my door. Otherwise, I have no desire to read the paper in anything but hard-copy.
I did tell them that if they came to their economic senses and lowered the price to where it was before, I'd consider subscribing again, but to have higher prices shoved down my throat for a product that I don't need (and to have it touted as this great thing) isn't in the cards.
Then again, maybe this was their plan all along as I am sure I was the paper's harshest critic. They know I don't make a living wage and thus raised the cost enough to price itself out of my range.
-Zjabs (Rochester's Official Columnist)
PS. Good thing Bob retired when he did, or with this increased price and loss of subscribers, I would have had to do a column that included the words 'One local journalist, hoping to increase the circulation of his paper, called me jealous in a futile attempt to increase his tiny readership....'
PPS. I think the paper is counting on habits. Every subscriber has his habits while reading the paper- perhaps over coffee in the morning, etc. And those are hard to break. HOWEVER, once they are broken, they're hard to start again. In other words, if this is an abject failure (they lose half their subscribers let's say), they had better eat crow quickly. Otherwise the former subscribers will pick up new habits (maybe going on line and reading the news for free at WHAM or YNN?) and then those will be hard to break. If the paper dithers and then changes back in a year, I think they'll have a hard time recapturing subscribers.
© 2012 Zjabs - 4/20/12