Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Read All About it!

I write this post with a heavy heart, because I have subscribed to my local newspaper (no matter where I have lived) for over 35 years. 

I know the newspaper industry is in deep trouble.  (Disclaimer, I have a relative who works for a major newspaper publisher, but I did not discuss this post with her.  I may, once I post it.)  And, I realize businesses can't give away content online without a financial return.  The "free" model works for many industries - apparently it doesn't for the newspaper industry.  Ok, fine. But....

Yesterday, I received a letter from my paper.  "I'm writing to announce some energizing news!" it began.  As someone a little wise to the ways of the world (I hope) my inner voice said "Uh-oh."

Sure enough.  Our newspaper will continue to be printed (or so they say).  It will also be available "across all devices 24/7"  In other worlds I'll be able to get it on the tablet I don't own, the smart phone I don't have, plus the computer I do have, for only (unless my math is wrong) an additional $10 a month.

No choice to just be a paper subscriber. Or just an electronic subscriber.  All or nothing.

So, what happened to choice?

I would like to point out a few things:

1.  My spouse, who is the main newspaper reader in my family, does not use the computer for news.  Period. (he doesn't even use email.  It falls to me to manage his email.)
2.  My son, who is a young adult, probably has never read a paper in his life, unless forced to at school, and he doesn't read the paper on line either.   My son is far from alone, although he grew up in a household where he saw both parents buried in newspapers.  So why would he  pay $23 a month to get the newspaper delivered on his smartphone or computer?
3.  If I want news online, I don't choose my newspaper website as my first choice.  I get immediate news from Twitter.  I get internet news from a variety of sources including television websites (local and cable.)

I don't want the electronic stuff.  I don't want to pay extra for things I am not using.

I've supported my paper for years through my subscription, and this is the thanks I get for my brand loyalty.

I wonder how many of this paper's subscribers are older people, who have subscribed for years, who still read the paper paper, and wouldn't be able to read news on their phones without a magnifying glass.  Our region has a higher than average population of elderly. 

Young people don't read newspapers so they aren't going to add readership by doing this, either.

So what happens when the paper alienates their loyal readers and doesn't do anything to attract the young? 

I would love to know the logic, the research the industry has done, to support this decision.

Our paper is a Gannett paper, so I have to know this is coming down from "Corporate".

So this is my message to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin:  No wonder your industry is dying.  You have no imagination.  You punch your loyal customers in the stomach.

Am I alone in feeling this way?

Do you still read newspapers? (If you do, would you mind sharing your decade - 20's, 40's, 60's or whatever, with me? )  Is your paper doing something like this?  If not, how would you react if they did?

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