Less for more probably doesn’t sell

Would you be willing to pay more for a product that is becoming less useful and smaller?

That’s what many newspapers have been asking readers to do. It’s no secret that newspapers have been cutting sections, reducing the size of newsprint and reducing the number of pages in sections. All of this amounts to a lesser product. Yet, papers have been trying to ask for more money from readers.

When Steve Outing received a bill from the Daily Camera with a 15-cents-a-day increase, him and his wife decided it was time to part with the deadtree edition:

It included a significant price hike, just as we were noticing the paper and its coverage get thinner and thinner. Pay a lot more and get less? If we needed something to push us over the edge and cancel print delivery, the extra 15 cents a day (about $53 a year, bringing the annual bill to a bit under $200) was it. No, that’s not a lot of money, and if we truly wanted to continue getting print delivery, we’d have paid it. But for a product that increasingly is less useful in light of online alternatives, there was no motivation to accept the price hike.

I wonder how many other people feel like Outing and his wife? Why pay more to get less? That seems like a losing proposition.

Outing, and many others like myself, believe that newspapers need to fundamentally change, because the way that people consume news has changed drastically:

But times change, and the Camera and other newspapers need to change with them. A print edition is no longer as relevant to our lives. We’re flooded with information — most of it free — from the Web, e-mail, RSS feeds, podcasts, phone alerts, TV and radio news. Most of the information that comes in the daily print edition is not new to me.

People want journalism. People enjoy consuming news. The challenge was face is giving people the news they want in the formats they want them in.

  • I can’t speak to the actions of the Daily Camera since it’s owned in part by the company I work for, but I can say that newspapers should raise print prices by a lot more than 15 cents.

    Why? Because print can become the premium edition of the news that can command a hefty increase. It could offer longer, more detailed stories that make it more of a news magazine for the local set rather than a rehash of daily news.

    The print newspaper should also be weekly to allow for this content.

    This would allow the Web and print to manage the information in a manner that suits them, and readers, the best.

  • pat

    @Patrick, that would make a lot more sense than what newspapers are currently doing. Basically, they are asking readers for more money for a weaker daily product.

    Scratch the daily newspaper and build an Economist-style weekly and charge $4.99 or something along those lines. I’d gladly page for a publication like that. I’ve had this idea for awhile, you have it as well and many other journalists talk about it too. I wonder when newspapers will seriously consider a radical proposal like this?