Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dunce Cap Award: Digital First Media

"You can't have an oversight committee on stupidity!"---Woody Paige, Around The Horn.

It has been a tradition since, well, before I was born, that when newspapers and other publications raised their prices, they would, at the very least, give their readers a heads-up by including a short note on the front page, or within a couple of pages thereof.

Digital First Media, the out-of-state parent company of The Record and its sister newspapers, The Daily Freeman (Kingston) and The Saratogian, seems to think that recycling the oft-recited line about inflation and increased costs of printing their papers when they have to raise their prices is unnecessary. They forget, yet again, that a large chunk of their readership, at least in the hometown, are seniors who have to factor in such increases in their monthly budgets.

On April 1, DFM very quietly raised the price of the daily edition of The Record and its sister papers to $1.25 per copy, which is the same price as the two tabloids in New York, the Daily News & New York Post. The Sunday price remained at $2, or a quarter more than the NYC papers. The Record had held the line at 75 cents per day, 6 days a week, for what seemed like an eternity. However, as the #3 paper in the home market, trailing behind the Albany Times Union and Schenectady's Daily Gazette, something had to be done to improve the bottom line. Ignoring tradition and not informing the readers of the increase led to at least two callers to The Record's Sound Off! page raising a stink a little more than a week into the increase.

"Well, here you go again!"---Ronald Reagan.

Three weeks later, and ye scribe didn't notice it, having bought last Saturday's papers with the groceries, until today, DFM raised the price of the Saturday Record to a full $2, to match the Sunday edition. Not only that, but in a move designed to mirror what the Times Union has been doing the last few years, the Sunday comics and supplements are now included on Saturdays, too. Once again, DFM decided not to notify the readers with a statement. I'm expecting more of the same from the Sound Off! Whiner Squad, perhaps as early as tomorrow's edition, or no later than next weekend.

Digital First Media, then, is guilty of a lack of accountability to its upstate New York reader base, and for that, the corporate barons in charge get the Dunce Caps this week. Two price increases in a month equals desperation, I get that, but I'm looking out not for rational types like myself, but for older readers, for the reasons I described above. Would it hurt to address the increases, coupled with the reaction from the older demographics, in an editorial? No, but when your hometown paper's budget is thinner than a box of shoestrings........!

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