No, this is NOT the way to raise a newspaper’s subscription price

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IT IS TO WEEP–I recently received a letter from The Star-Ledger’s circulation department in, of all places, Birmingham, AL. In bold letters was the exhortation–PLEASE READ–IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR ACCOUNT.

I read it several times and could find no new information about my account. No changes were noted. I figured it was sent by mistake.

Then my wife Lynda checked what we pay every month and we got it–our subscription price was raised by what appears to be 33 percent, from $36 to $48.

Raised–without telling us it was an increase. Raised–without even using the word change in its letter.

Look, I understand price increases. I worked for The Star-Ledger for nearly 50 years and made a good living. Employees should be paid well. Good journalists don’t come cheap, and shouldn’t.

What really hurts is the way this price increase was announced. Maybe the newspaper ran something in print earllier, but I couldn’t find it. Maybe it will run something in the future. In the past, we would make the argument that the costs of printing a daily newspaper are always rising. We would say we had a good product and were striving to make it better.

And we would make the argument before the price increase went into effect.

We were honest and upfront.

Sending a letter that does not at all mention a price increase is not honest.

It is not upfront.

I will not cancel and I urge fellow readers not to cancel. Now more than ever, New Jersey needs a good statewide newspaper and The Star-Ledger is the only candidate that can fill that role. It has excellent journalists, photographers and reporters, many of whom are my friends. I hope that, with the added resources provided by the price increase, they will be given what they need to fill that essential role. 

The newspaper’s management needs to make that case to its readers. The bond between a newspaper and its readers is unlike that of most commercial transactions.  Readers need to trust that it will be open and honest–not just on its news pages but also in its sales departments.

I suspect–without knowing–that circulation has been outsourced or, at least, centralized outside New Jersey.

My fervent hope is the management of The Star-Ledger will encourage its circulation department to respect the intelligence and good will of its readers–and trust them to accept a price increase they can be assured will be used to improve the newspaper.

3 comments

  1. John

    I saw this when I got my credit card bill and I am not sure I can keep the subscription. This is a huge increase. A couple dollars okay. Twelve dollars at once? No. I have kept my subscription going in part to keep the paper going but I won’t be played for a fool. I didn’t even get a letter!

    • Bob Braun

      I have spoken to a number of readers who say they would be willing to pay the increase–if only The Star-Ledger had not been so deceptive about it. Shame on the newspaper’s management–and, while I have kept my subscription, I can perfectly understand why so many have cancelled.

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