Newspapers wonder why subscriptions are down. They wonder why they can’t make any money and why more and more are going bankrupt. They’re using a flawed business model. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones using that model.
My local newspaper subscription ended today. I only received the Sunday paper for the ads and coupons. The Sunday paper itself was always a bit on the thin side with ads and coupons varying at times, sometimes with hardly any. It only includes a few sections: Front Page / World News, Local, Sports, Money, Real Estate, Entertainment, Automotive, and Classifieds. Of those sections I only read a few and sometimes, only an article or two of those sections.
Recently I’ve been finding more of my news online. From independent sources that do not skew an article one way or another and give you all the facts instead of just the facts they want you to know. I don’t have money to buy a new house so I skip the real estate section, same goes for entertainment. If I want to see a show somewhere, I look up my options online. I do usually check the local section, but despite the fact they publish a local section for my county, I always get a local section for another county meaning the news in that section is never local.
I’ve also found that the time I invest in cutting coupons plus my annual subscription for the paper outweighs the savings I actually get from those coupons. Doesn’t make good fiscal sense does it?
Now to the failed model that is killing newspapers: when demand drops, they raise prices to make up for it. Couple that with the fact they haven’t figured out how to use the internet and you have a dead industry. When I received my paper today it included a letter from the Circulation Director noting a deal they were having to lock in 2008 rates if I pre-pay for 2009.
Because of the economy raising prices on raw materials and lack of demand for the paper in general, they need to raise subscription rates from $1.50 to $2.00 for Sunday and from $0.50 to $0.75 for daily papers. This baffles me because the newsstand price of the Sunday edition was already $1.50. When I lived closer to Philadelphia, we got a newspaper in a larger market that had double the amount of news and ads for only $1.25 on Sunday… and that was the “out of area” price because we lived an hour outside of the city.
When I moved to the Harrisburg area, I never liked that the local paper cost me $1.50 on Sunday and was quite lacking. But now, because of lack of demand it will be $2.00. No Thanks! Maybe they should look for ways to provide better content for a cheaper price. If the Sunday edition was only $1.00 for what they offer now, I might be more inclined to keep my service.