Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The $.75 debate

My wife, Lisa, and I debated three quarters this morning. As in 75 actual cents.

If you hadn't noticed, that's the new price of the daily Akron Beacon Journal.

It frustrates me that the same week the paper shrinks from four sections to three, ABJ brass raises the price to seven dimes and a nickle. Doesn't seem right.

This is the same paper that's now searching for 20 additional newsroom staffers to take buyouts or more layoffs are coming in the next 45 days. That will take the small staff of about 100 down to about 80.

So my small paper is about to get even smaller?!?!?

So with all of that in mind, I asked Lisa if it was time to reduce to just the Sunday paper and read the Mon-Sat editions on-line.

Her response wasn't what I expected.
"I don't want one more way for us to be a suburb of Cleveland," she said, without even looking up from the story she was reading.

I thought she might argue that browsing the morning prose was part of her daily routine or that she would miss being able to take the paper wherever she wanted .. or even that "it's only 75 cents" so what's the big deal?

But that wasn't it.

Lisa fears that the more people bail out on the paper during the lean economic times, the more likely it is that the paper will continue to shrink .. or worse.

I had no comeback. I had no rebuttal. I got it.

It's a good argument ... and one that I certainly know well with our financial struggles in the broadcasting end of the local news business.

Still, like any other commodity, I want to feel like I'm getting my money's worth .. in this case, my three quarters' worth.

Heck, I like reading the paper (I've got to have my Sudoku fix) .. and as a journalist I need to read the paper, even if doesn't take me as long to go through it each day as it used to take.

I may not like the increased cost, but the alternative -- as my wife so eloquently pointed out to me -- is one lesson I don't want to have to learn.

By the way, tomorrow .. I'm thinking of asking Lisa if she thinks we need a big-screen TV .. wish me luck :)


Swanny said...

The ABJ is taking a lot of backlash on what they have done to the way you can comment on their stories. They used to use Topix to host their discussion, but have now brought the commenting system in-house. The result is a lot of disgruntled readers, some of which say they are canceling their subscriptions. The number of comments is down to a trickle now.

It is sad, but the ABJ is almost irrelevant these days. Seriously, I am glad we have a hometown paper, but the ABJ is a shadow of what it was even a few years ago. I am sure the John S. Knight is doing pinwheels in his grave over what has been done to his paper.

Village Green said...

When the ABJ went online, I stopped buying it. I'm happy not to have piles of newspaper to put in the recycle bin. I would pay for an online subscription, but I fear I am in the minority. People are now used to getting it free, and if they can't get it here, they'll go elsewhere. But where will we find local news? Not on TV anymore. Here at your blog, but not all the info we need. I really don't know the answer to this problem.

Anonymous said...

Did you read the comments of Topix regularly? Comments are down to a trickle now because people have to put their real name in the registration form an few of the yahoos want to have to actually stand behind the garbage they posted so regularly on

I read comments to every article I sampled every day. And I don't miss them becasue I was often disgusted by them.

But I guess I do the same thing here. Am I a hypocrite? probably.

Chris H. said...

I don't subscribe to it anymore. Period.

My prediction ... within 2 years the Beacon will either become an insert to the PD ... print only weekend editions ... or shut down entirely.

Anonymous said...

In with my Plain Dealer today was a note from my carrier that said on Monday the PD would be delivered by a Beacon Journal carrier, since the PD has decided this is more economical.

Strange...Beacon is shrinking, costs 25 cents more and now the Beacon carrier is also going to deliver my PD...something's going on in downtown Akron!

74WIXYgrad said...

The place where I get the paper I take to work is still charging 50 cents. I'm sure this will change. I will instead take the Medina Gazette to work. I really only read the comics. Others come in to read the sports. I get my news online.

With the papers going more with the wire services with the national stories and having less local content, I thnk anymore one looks like the other.

It's a shame the beacon Journal, which once was the falgship of the Knight Ridder chain may go the way of the Cleveland Press, once the flagship of the Scripps Howard chain.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I decided today to seriously look into stopping the ABJ and getting the PD. It's sad.

Village Green said...

Actually, you don't have to post your real name in the new ABJ comments area. You can add a nick name by going to My Account.