If you’ve felt a pang of sticker shock while picking up a newspaper the last couple Saturdays, hi, how are you? Me too.
The Sacramento Bee recently doubled the price of its Saturday edition to $2 and renamed it the “early Sunday edition.” Other changes included adding a couple more pages of comics (because you can never get enough “Marmaduke”) and packing in enough advertising inserts to choke a recycling can. As for additional news content, not so much. I also didn’t see any articles having anything to do with Sunday, early or otherwise.
Which basically means you’re getting the same newspaper for twice the cost. Except, instead of one day old, the news in the “early Sunday edition” is now two days old.
(Here at SN&R HQ, we’re committed to bringing you news that is no fresher than five days. Also? We don’t eat veal.)
Now, as someone working in the financially precarious world of journalism, I don’t want to slag a competitor for doing what it needs to stay afloat, especially one as venerable as the Bee.
But a pet peeve of mine is when publications try to pass off cost-cutting—or profit-bumping—moves as innovations. Every business does it, sure, but maybe a business built on sharing facts shouldn’t.
I, for one, would welcome a blunt message from the publisher saying something like, “Hey there, devoted reader. Developing sources, chasing stories and verifying facts is both time- and resource-intensive. We’d like to keep doing it, but we’ve hit some hard times and need to charge you a little extra for our product. Kay, thanks.”
That’s much better than the dystopian alternative, when every issue of the Bee is the Sunday edition, costs a quidtillion nano credits, is written by fifth-gen Magic 8 Ball technology, and is exclusively consumed by hamster feces. Which will be our new overlords. Because the future.