For newspapers, raising prices takes courage

Billy McMacken

Prices are going up everywhere. As much as we hate to add to your financial burdens, prices are going up at your newspaper, too. 

Part of the reason for our increase in subscription prices is the hammering our industry is taking in the rising cost of the materials needed to produce a newspaper. In the past year, the cost of newsprint, plates and ink prices have increased more than 30%, on top of other significant increases that we absorbed last year. The cost of postage has seen a drastic increase, as well. 

Part of the reason why the current increase in the price of a subscription is so significant is that historically we have been hesitant about raising our prices.

As seekers of truth, we believe in transparency. That’s why we are letting you know about an increase in our rates. We also are giving you a chance to renew at discounted rates before the price hike goes into effect on Oct. 1. 

It also should be noted that it wasn’t the decision of the fine people who work at The Brookings Register to raise prices. They are just following orders from the “corporate” office, which is where I work.

I wrote this column to put a face to “corporate.” I’m a husband, parent, volunteer – just like the people who work at The Register. But I love newspapers and have worked in the business since 1990. 

People who work at the The Register have been known to take a hit on the sidelines in order to get a good photo at a football game. We have visited accident scenes that still haunt us. We’ve asked hard questions about public meetings. We’ve ignored advice from elected officials and major advertisers about the ramifications of publishing a controversial story on the front page.

Having that kind of courage is part of the business. Yet, when it comes to raising our subscription rates, let’s just say that we have been less than courageous. 

Bless those of you who have to have your local newspaper and will take the subscription increase in stride. Others of you may have to make a choice. Once you consider all that you get for your money – local news and sports you won’t find anywhere else, opinions, legal notices, comics, columns, weather, photos, advertisements, classified ads, horoscopes – we hope you’ll choose to invest in The Register. 

Some folks, bless them, have to feel the newspaper in their hands. Others of you, whose pursuit of local news isn’t quite such a tactile experience, may want to avoid some of the subscription price increase and try our online edition. It has all the same news delivered right to your computer. 

These are tough times for the newspaper industry. In the past few years hundreds of newspapers – both large and small, daily and weekly – have closed. It’s safe to wager that some of them were shuttered because they didn’t have the courage to charge what they were worth.

We’re raising prices so that doesn’t happen here. Thanks for sticking with us in these tough times. We promise to do our best to bring you a product that’s worthy of your investment.

William McMacken has worked for News Media Corporation, the company that owns The Brookings Register, since 1999. He currently serves as NMC’s chief operating officer. 

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