Sunday, August 2, 2009

Resubscribing to the Monitor

During the last seven or so months, I have lived without the print edition of the Concord Monitor. It's easy to say that not having the Monitor has been both a blessing and a curse.
First, it wasn't an easy decision to cancel my subscription to our local daily. It was mostly made for financial reasons [eight weeks for $34, plus a $1 tip, because, you know, times are bad ...] Or, more than $200 for the year, which is a lot of money.
As I spent as much time on the online version of the Monitor as I did with the print edition, I began to realize that most everything that was important to me was online. And reading the back and forth of the commenting is almost as interesting to read as some of the stories [granted, it isn't as interesting as it was when people made anonymous comments but still, you get the point ...]. When their circulation department kept calling me over the weekend at ungodly morning hours, that secured the decision.
Lately though, I began to think about the fight for journalism and all the time I put into my journalism career with the expectation that readers in the Massachusetts town I cover, would hopefully pony up the money to keep me fed [$46 for an annual subscription for a weekly]. Sure, our company, like the Monitor, gives most of the content away for free online. But, as we all know - or should know - the online advertising isn't enough to sustain the product. Print ads and subscriptions pay the bills and keep journalists fed, as meagerly as they are these days ...
I'm not going to get into my job too much but needless to say, we're down just like everyone else is while I'm trying my damnedest to make sure that people subscribe AND visit the online edition, daily, for breaking news, comments, and extras, like videos, blog entries, polls, etc. While I was cleaning my office the other day, I found some stuff from 2002 which show the newspaper getting very few Web hits per month - about what we get in a day now - but nearly 800 more subscriptions. So there you go: A transfer from subscriptions to the Web, without the revenue stream.
As we all try to navigate through the Depression and figure out how to save journalism, getting people to support it is going to be the major hurdle. But what kind of hypocrite am I if I, as a journalist, won't help my local newspaper fight to stay alive, by continuing my subscription?
During the last few months, the Monitor has been running sales - subscribe for six months at $56, or about 40 percent off. Of course, this deal was only available to me because I hadn't been a subscriber for 30 days. I missed the last one that expired on May 31. The latest one expired on July 31 and I made sure I called on that day to sign up. I realized that yeah, I can manage less than $10 a month to support my daily newspaper ... and so can everyone else in Concord and the Capital Region.
I don't know if the Monitor will offer the deal again but I know that it was nice having the physical newspaper back in my hands this morning for the first time in ages. I sat there, coffee in hand, thumbing through the newspaper and flipping through the flyers. There is no replacing that feeling.

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