Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Print Newspapers - The Cost and the Benefit

My bill for the Denver Post came the other day ... and it truly knocked me back a bit.  Seven days a week for fifty-two weeks came to the - arguably reasonable - price of $206.00.

It was tough to take only because of the dramatic increase in the past ten years.  When I first moved to Denver a decade ago from St. Louis, I could not believe my good fortune.  The Denver Post was available daily for the year at a cost of less than fifty bucks.  That's an incredible deal for excellent news and commentary delivered daily to my driveway.  The once-proud St. Louis Post-Dispatch (the paper of Joseph Pulitzer) was much less of a paper for much greater price.  And the Denver Post was thriving in a city with competition from the Rocky Mountain News.

Alas, the Rocky eventually folded, and I had great hope for the Denver Post, as it could now pick up a considerable readership, which it did.   Many people carried on with Denver Post, and the paper continued to put out a rather extensive daily offering of excellent news and commentary with great features and excellent service.  Sadly, I didn't even notice the drop off at first.  A few columnists like Diane Carmen and Jim Spencer parted from the Denver Post.  And the Saturday paper, followed by the Monday and Tuesday editions became ever slightly thinner.  The op-ed pages at least three days a week became simply the ed pages - as it moved from a fold out to just one page.

More columnists left - or took early retirement - and the number of ads seemed to increase daily.  The stories became harder to find on the page.  And I began to hear of people canceling their subscriptions.  "Say it ain't so," I begged and pleaded, as I knew we couldn't afford to lose the Denver Post to the Rocky's fate.  But more people were reading online, more claimed they had no time for the daily paper, and others switched to the Wall Street Journal or New York Times delivered via the mail.  But what about the local news, I wondered.  How will they get info on local issues and votes?  Alas, that doesn't seem to be a concern for too many people these days.  And even I wince at the price.

But we need our daily newspapers, and I won't let go.  Admittedly, I have signed up quarterly at this point, as I can't bring myself to shell out the big bucks.  But it's still way less than a dollar a day.  And the Denver Post - still with all the changes - is a great city newspaper.

So, I will still sit contentedly in my kitchen in the morning, waiting for that comforting "smack" on the driveway.

But for how long?  Oh, for how long?


Teacher gardener said...

I can certainly relate to this topic. Here in Alabama, where the Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile papers are owned by the same company; the decision has been recently announced to decrease publishing to 3 days a week by fall. The owner is Advance Digital. I'm sure that subscriptions and advertisers will drop so much that by this time next year, it will be online exclusively. The newspaper and online experiences are not the same.

mmazenko said...

Three days a week? Wow. That is definitely a sign of the end. Currently the DP offers subscribers a Thur-Sun package - and it almost makes sense because the Mon-Wed offerings are so slim.