Recently, the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, the two major newspapers in the local market, announced that they would be making drastic changes due to the decline in the newspaper industry, as well as the economy. Both papers have been producing the daily paper for decades upon decades.
In the 1980’s, the papers combined a lot of operations including printing and distribution, though they had separate writers, columnists, and editorial staff. That move, at the time, was seen as somewhat dramatic, but it has since been applauded and probably saved one, if not both, of the papers. Many cities, in the meantime, have seen at least one of their major papers shut down.
Still, the papers took another revolutionary step in the last couple of weeks. Instead of doing seven day home delivery, they are now cutting back to three days. The other four days, you either have to purchase the paper at a newsstand, pay to have it delivered by mail, or read an electronic edition that displays the pages on a computer screen just as if you were reading the paper. With any paid subscription, you get seven day a week access to the complete digital edition. They also have the ‘traditional’ free web versions which are supported by advertising.
I’ve been a subscriber of the Sunday only Free Press for a few years now. I enjoy sitting down and reading through the bigger edition, and I also find that the coupons and advertisements pay for themselves.
But, with the change to three day home delivery, I’ve found that the Sunday option to my Free Press subscription is no longer available. They are forcing subscribers that want home delivery to take all three days! Right now, my subscription rate is locked in until the end of the year for about $5 per month, or $1.25 per Sunday edition. This is a savings off the newsstand price of $1.50. But after the end of the year, my price will jump to $12 per month. I consider this a $3 per copy charge.
Because even though I’m getting two extra days, I don’t want them! Let me say that again: I don’t want the extra two days of print editions. I only want my Sunday Free Press! I don’t have time during the week to read the extra editions. Most of the time since they started delivering them, it goes right into the recycling bucket. While I’m happy to have recycled, it still seems like a big waste to produce something that customers don’t want.
The funny thing is that I’ve e-mailed them about this, and have also read through the many editions of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ that they publish regularly during the transition. Not once is the lack of a Sunday only option mentioned.
I hope that they correct this by the time that 2009 ends. I have a feeling that there a lot of subscribers in the same boat that I’m in. We are currently purchasing the paper because the price makes sense, and ‘putting up with’ the extra two days of delivery. But, once the price jumps, there could be a mass exodus of subscribers. If that happened, I would simply cancel my subscription and plan on going to the gas station on the corner to pick up the paper.
Still, it’d be much easier if they gave this customer what they want, and not force an option that is undesirable at a higher cost. I don’t think I’m the only ‘dinosaur’ that wants the Sunday paper, am I?