Friday, April 15, 2022

Gasoline isn’t all that’s gone up

     Good news! The newsstand price of the Chicago Sun-Times went up a dollar on Monday, to $2.
     Good news?
     Yes, counterintuitively.
     First, because you’re reading about it here, in my column. I didn’t discuss addressing the increase with anyone. That’s the kind of place we are. Lean. Not a lot of meetings or hand-holding. Hit the beach, fan out, start digging.
     Second, while price increases are generally unremarked upon, the hope being that they’ll go unnoticed, news shouldn’t be ignored. Just say it. I should have done so Monday — sorry about the delay. Honestly, I had a price-increase column ready to go. (And this is the daily paper we’re talking about; Sunday is unchanged.) But it seemed ... I don’t know ... kinda inside-baseball. We went up a dollar, big whoop. So did cookies. Not the most complicated intellectual concept to challenge you with. I ran something else Monday.
     That afternoon, I received this email from a reader:
     I buy the Sun-Times every day from the neighborhood 7-11 store, and I don’t begrudge the 100% price increase, but I think it should be at least mentioned in the paper. Did I miss the announcement? Seems to me the last price increase was covered not only in the Sun-Times, but on local TV as well, no? Still a bargain, and glad to support, just seems odd if no one mentioned it.
     Not a deluge. Not two. One email from one reader. But you know what? He was right. And one person being right is enough or should be.
     We should mention the change because I happened to be in Ohio the day the Cleveland Plain Dealer cut home delivery to three days a week. “A reimagined Plain Dealer,” was the headline. “And a new digitally focused company to serve the changing needs of Northeast Ohio.” Oh please. Those changing needs apparently did not include receiving a newspaper four days out of seven.
     But then, more than halving home delivery was only one cut in the death of a thousand cuts. Reductions tend to aggregate. The dreaded death spiral. The Sun-Times is in whatever the opposite of a death spiral is. A life arc, maybe.

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  1. Unlike most Chicago media outlets, the Sun-Times in still owned locally. In addition to all its other assets, that's well worth the price increase.

  2. And one saves with home delivery over buying it daily in the store and it's convenient.

  3. We've been getting the Plain Dealer delivered four days a week for quite a few years now...Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you want to read the paper on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, you either go online, or you go out and buy it. The paper has shrunk to the point where it's not worth the hassle anymore, especially in the wintertime. I've lived in college towns that had daily newspapers that were equal to the size of today's Plain Dealer.

  4. I would have complained, but I thought it was my fault, that I must have missed the notice. It's not like I wasn't expecting it; once the price went up a dollar for Saturday's paper jacketed by a rather larger-than-normal sports section, a price increase for the daily M-F paper seemed inevitable and I was actually looking for it every day, but didn't carry an extra dollar on the fateful day. Private has it all wrong, however, home delivery is the worst way to buy the paper and I say that as a former newspaper boy. The very least one can do is stroll a few blocks to reward oneself with the oh-so-lovely news for the minuscule effort. I think I'd be long dead if I didn't get the juices flowing every morning by walking or jogging for the paper. Neil's got Kitty to get him going; I'm dedicated to getting the Sun-Times every morning, rain or shine.


  5. I gotta say that, while I can't really argue against John's rationale, I'm still amazed that people buy an individual copy of the paper each morning. Bill Savage also mentioned stopping by a classic newsstand daily to do so.

    Personally, while I'm an old-school kinda guy who does enjoy a physical newspaper, I found dealing with the clutter of yesterday's news to be unnecessarily bothersome quite a while ago. The e-edition, where I can see how the paper is laid out, yet remove the leftovers with a simple click, seems to me to be the way to go. Though even if I were to insist on an actual copy, I'd be on Team Private.

    As for the price, I think Neil's forthright acknowledgment and justification was well-considered and presented. In my estimation, we're well past the point at which newspapers should be considered regular businesses, to be plundered and ruined at will, a la the Tribune, and are more akin to PBS or, indeed, NPR -- things that should be supported beyond simple profit/loss calculations.


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