Tag Archives: local news

News and Record’s Weak Pricing Logic

The Greensboro News & Record announced a new digital subscription model that its editor explained in a front page piece of today’s paper. After explaining that all 7-day print subscribers will get digital access for free he described the digital subscription model:

After a special introductory period with rates as low as $9.99 per month, a digital-only subscription will cost slightly more than a seven-day print subscription.

The reason for that variance? A print subscription permits us to subsidize the cost of content by providing access to your home or business for preprinted advertising circulars. A digital-only subscription lacks that advertising subsidy.

Readers who have no subscription may view up to 20 articles or photo galleries every 30 days at no charge. There is no limit on viewing selected content, such as many wire service stories and classified ads.

Here’s the thing: consumers don’t give a sh** why you’re pricing your digital subscription at whatever level it’s priced, they only care that the product is worth the price. What matters to them is whether or not they are getting bang for their buck. Is the content that the N&R is producing worth the price of admission? If so then people will gladly pay it, if not then they’ll find what they need elsewhere or just go without.

I’m willing to bet that part of the thinking is that people will just decide to get the print subscription, and thus opt in to the advertising subsidy, if they price the digital-only higher than the print+ option. That’s logical in a way, but ignores the reality that they have to produce content that’s compelling enough for people to pay for it whether it’s print or digital. They might think they’ve lost a ton of subscribers because those subscribers believe they can get the N&R’s content at the N&R website, but it’s more likely that they lost subscribers because much of the content readers used to get exclusively from the paper – stuff like syndicated columns, wire reports, classified ads, national news, etc. – is now available from a variety of sources. That means the N&R’s only unique product offering is local news/data/information and the last time I looked they hadn’t expanded their local coverage or deepened their editorial bench, which makes it hard to imagine the product being perceived as worthy of the price they’re asking.

Five Seconds of Fame

Thanks to my job I'm occasionally interviewed by local TV stations. It's cool in the "I never thought I'd be on TV" sense, but on the other hand it's a little like jumping off a cliff because you learn pretty quickly that the TV folks can make you look as good or bad, smart or stupid, as they want.

Last Friday I was fried. We had our annual banquet the night before and my brain was little more than Jell-O as a result. Luckily I had a light schedule so I was cruising through my day until the phone rang at 12:30. It was the local Fox affiliate looking for some background on a story they were working, and also looking for a soundbite if at all possible. Knowing I was in no shape for an interview I claimed a full schedule. Nominally true, but I really just didn't want to do the interview. Eventually the reporter persuaded me to talk and we set a 2:30 appointment. 

The result? A half hour of prep work followed by a total vapor-lock of the brain as soon as the camera was on. Luckily they took mercy on me and only used about five seconds of the interview, thus minimizing my on-camera freeze

Protest or Small Gathering? Small Scuffle or War on Christmas?

Wachovia/Wells Fargo apparently doesn't require its branches to display Christmas trees and apparently that's a problem for ten people who marched in front of the Wachovia building in Winston-Salem.  That was enough to attract some local news folks, but I don't think the "War on Christmas" story they were hoping for materialized.  From the story:

Ten people gathered Tuesday in front of Wachovia's offices on West 4 ½ Street to protest a company policy they said doesn't allow branches to recognize the Christmas holiday.

Joyce Krawiec organized the event after she said the company banned the display of Christmas trees in its branches…

It should be noted that the Wachovia offices where the protests were held do display a Christmas tree inside. But, Krawiec said she's checked in branches throughout the area and found very few that were displaying Christmas trees…

Wachovia, acquired by Wells Fargo in 2008, said in a statement that the decision to display poinsettias in branches was to achieve a common look within the markets in which the company operates.

The statement from the company also said that company policy doesn't prohibit Christmas trees from being displayed.

Okay, I think we need to come up with a few news rules here:

  1. If you have fewer people than can sit on a school bus it's not a protest.  If you must cover it as a "news" story then come up with a new term for it.  I like Airing of Grievances (think Festivus).
  2. If someone is protesting, er Airing a Grievance, about a corporate policy that ends up not being a policy then for God's sake turn off the camera and wish them a nice day.
  3. Unless someone shoots a mall Santa do not run a "War on Christmas" story. 

If these kind of stories keep showing up I think I'm going to grab four of my friends, a six pack, a couple of hand drawn cardboard signs and head over to the mall to walk around and air our various grievances about saggy drawers, terrible Christmas music, terrible tattoos, nasty body piercings, etcetera, etcetera.  See you on the 6 o'clock news.