Consider subscribing! Here’s why

Significant layoffs, 20 percent or more, will fall in the coming weeks on the newsroom of the Daily Bulletin and the 10 other papers in the Southern California News Group. It’s been widely reported, so I feel comfortable in sharing that. The Times wrote a detailed account last week, which you can read here.

You might be asking: What can I do? Here’s what journalist Luis Gomez wrote:

Ken Doctor, like many journalism experts and practitioners, was recently asked about this conundrum: “What can citizens do?

And like everyone else, he said what people should do is subscribe to a newspaper. It sounds self-serving, but it’s a simple question of economics. People vote with their wallets. If they don’t buy a subscription, they are essentially telling newspapers that they are not worth keeping around.

A lot of people are essentially telling us that, unfortunately. (I’ve lost track of how many people who recognize me then ask me if I still write for the newspaper.) And we’ve made it easy to tell us that by offering our product online largely for free as we, and other newspapers, tried to figure out whether increased readership would pay for itself via increased advertising. Turns out it, er, didn’t.

Now, I’m hesitant to tell people how they should spend their money, and I’m sensitive to the fact that, like other print publications, we’re charging you more for less content.

Still, paying for the news you’re getting seems only fair. We’re not working for free. A print subscription or a digital one is fine with us, whichever you prefer. It’s a relative bargain, in my eyes, and your support may keep us going. Even a reduced level of local news is better than no local news — right?

Home delivery price on our website is $25 for 28 days — that’s under $1 a day, and cheaper than the newsstand price, and comes with unlimited online access.

An online-only subscription is $10 for 28 days — that’s 28 cents a day, daily and Sunday. Why, that’s like 1970s pricing. You get unlimited access to our website and a web facsimile of each day’s paper, with the ability to read recent past issues. And the carrier won’t throw it under your car.

May we sign you up? Operators, as they used to say in the commercials, are standing by.

Above, a (slightly messy) view of a portion of our office; below, art on the wall of another room.

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  • Smartacus

    Wait a minute. Newspapers shot themselves in the foot by offering all of their content online for free . . . and then I’m supposed to bail them out by paying voluntarily? Thanks, but no thanks.

    If I thought my one subscription would make a difference, I’d do it, but the problem is baked into the business model.

    • davidallen909

      “Thanks, but no thanks” is also a good reply to your comment. But here’s more:

      One subscription, like one vote, probably won’t tip the scales, true. But if your argument is that nobody should ever have to pay for a newspaper (or other media) again because we made it easy for a few years not to, that’s not a sustainable business model, is it? We all evolved in one direction, it didn’t work out and now we’re evolving in a different direction.

      You wouldn’t exactly be “paying voluntarily,” since freeloaders get cut off after a certain number of articles per month, and a subscription entitles you to everything. And at 28 cents a day, you’d getting off light. If we’re not worth 28 cents a day, then shame on us.

      But if all you need is, say, eight articles a month, whatever our limit is, then take ’em for free, with our compliments.

      • Doug Evans

        What I pay for my digital subscription ($10/month, with the first month only 99 cents) is less than what I pay in two visits to Starbucks. Whenever I use this comparison, someone always replies that he/she doesn’t go to Starbucks, which is fine, but not the point. Unlimited access to all of David’s columns and local news, delivered everyday to my iPad before I even get out of bed. Worth it to me!

      • Smartacus

        Dave, I think we agree that the business model is the problem.

        I consider myself a newspaper person. Throughout the 90’s, I subscribed to four: the Wall Street Journal, the L.A. Times, the Daily Bulletin, and the Claremont Courier.

        The Wall Street Journal has a paywall, so I continue to subscribe. The Claremont Courier has a paywall, so I continue to subscribe. I can’t swear that I’d subscribe to the Daily Bulletin if it had a paywall, but I’d think about it long and hard.