Today, I bought my last copy of The New York Times. Where I got my Sunday paper, which I’ve purchased weekly for several years now, the price is going up another 20 percent next week to $6.00. The weekday editions are also going up to $2.00 from the current $1.25. The combination of rising prices over the last several years (about 200 percent) and the political bias of this publication have finally closed my wallet for good.
I have watched The New York Times become less objective editorially over the years, but I’ve always comforted myself somewhat by the fact that it hired writers of excellent quality and while the reporting is often biased; it was usually clear and understandable. The opinion and news analysis follows the same pattern, but even more so as it is steeped apparently in political bias with a mission. My own political views are well out of the mainstream today so I don’t think there will be a wave of reactions similar to my own with regard to the current situation. In fact, many loyal readers of the paper in the Northeast don’t really seem to care much about the rising prices. They identify themselves with the paper’s politics and the readership is probably, by and large, well able to afford the extra couple of hundred bucks a year to keep that camaraderie going.
The New York Times is in trouble however, as is much of the print media today. Circulation is declining and of course, advertising revenue as well. Many advertisers are apparently finding better value in online and other advertising. There is a transition to the use of online sources for news, and for me it represents cost savings, convenience and I’ve found too that my other sources are much more objective than The New York Times. I should have dropped them long ago but the Sunday Crossword and the Book Review had become staples of our household. Well, no more.
There is another aspect to this that touches me as a little strange. There is something just wrong about a business that relies so much on jacking up prices to customers as business is evidently declining so steadily. It is too much like the way the US Postal Service operates with its monopoly on first class mail. Successful businesses figure out how to deliver a better product at a lower price, cutting their costs while maintaining a profit margin that allows for good cash flow and capital formation. The New York Times and the print media generally need to reduce operating costs, first and foremost. Then they need to offer subscribers a new way to accept delivery, perhaps electronically, and that may mean going beyond just putting up a subscription site online and expecting subscribers to sign up. Reporting may have to change as well, with more reliance on “lay” journalists and stringers, with the role of editors changing too from an emphasis on cutting or placement to one of inclusion and classification of all quality work. Modern society could certainly use more news purveyors unhampered by a Marxist-inspired education.
Although The New York Times and others may be trying hard to make these changes now I see not so much evidence of it. It is really past the point for print media to get with the times.
©Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske