Sunday, May 3, 2009

Charlotte Observer raises single copy price to 75 cents, Sunday paper goes to $2 (update -- readers complain)

In a "Dear Reader" letter published Sunday, Ann Caulkins announced a price increase.

Dear readers:

Beginning Monday, the newsstand price of the Observer rises to 75 cents Monday through Saturday and to $2 on Sunday, to help meet the costs of producing the newspaper.

This marks the first price increase for a single copy of the weekday newspaper in 18 years, the first for the Sunday paper in 14 years.

Other area newspapers similarly have raised newsstand prices recently. While rare for the Observer, this move will help us continue to provide readers the most comprehensive reporting of news and information in the Charlotte region.

Also, the new rates still compare favorably with those of other widely sold newspapers, including USA Today ($1 daily), The Wall Street Journal ($2 daily) and The New York Times ($1.50 daily; $5 Sunday).

We deeply appreciate your readership and continued support of your local newspaper. To reach us with questions, comments or suggestions, please e-mail us at or call 800-532-5350.

The News & Observer has instituted an identical increase.

Hat tip: comments

UPDATE: Lots of complaints about the increase in the comments at the Observer. Here's one:

"This is a bad move. Those of us who care about Charlotte aren't going to pay 75 cents for a paper that is available for free online. Frankly, your content isn't worth that. Everything except the local news is available elsewhere sooner and your local coverage except for the occasional blockbuster sucks. Your coverage of the financial meltdown has been appallingly bad because you just look like you're out of the loop on the big stories..."


Anonymous said...

Also, the new RATES still compare favorably with those of other widely sold newspapers, The Wall Street Journal ($2 daily)

I stopped right here. Instead of rates, can we talk instead about CONTENT.


McClatchy Watch said...

The comments left by readers after the Caulkins announcement are a hoot.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kevin, didn't you used to be in journalism?

Anonymous said...

Do people bitch this much when their cable bill goes up a buck or two every six months? Or when their latte price rises 17 cents? It's called cost of doing business.

McClatchyWatch said...

4:45: No.

Anonymous said...

Yes, people complain when their cable bill goes up by just 0.50, and they'll loudly complain about a price increase on the menu anywhere.

So you can expect that as each Mcclatchy paper increases their prices to what is becoming standard for all of their papers. The problem with your question is, when Starbucks jacks the price up on your latte, they don't charge you 17 cents extra while serving you 3 oz less of coffee. The papers are increasing their price while still cutting pages of content.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the "cost of doing business" 5:26, it's about servicing McClatchy's debt. Nevertheless, with circulation dropping, indicating a drop in demand, what brilliant businessperson forgot the basics of the downward sloping demand curve? When demand drops, a rise in price simpy accelerates the demand drop. Markets are pretty good (except with the current government interference) at setting a market price. My guess is that price elasticity of demand for the Observer is such that readership will drop even more.

Anonymous said...


"...When Starbucks jacks the price up on your latte, they don't charge you 17 cents extra WHILE SERVING YOU 3 OZ LESS OF COFFEE. The papers are increasing their price while still cutting pages of content."



Anonymous said...

Is this slight of hand known as the classic, liberal hand-job

Anonymous said...

I read the comments at the Charlotte Observer, and quite frankly, though I thought we were a pretty rough bunch here, the comments were brutal. My favorite comment was:

"I'm surprised the liberal editorial staff at McClatchy didn't develop a new pricing scheme where the residents of Lake Norman, Lake Wylie and other affluent areas pay $10 while the disadvantaged "inner city" residents get a copy for free."

Their readers, or ex-readers told them exactly what they want in a paper, yet is sounds like they just don't care.


Will the Observer leave or delete the comments?

Are management simply dense elitists who simply do not care what their subscribers want, or is it worse than that?

Anonymous said...

This is not really a shock given how other MNI papers have raised the price of their product to make up for declining ad dollars. Would not be shocked to see MNI papers go the route of forcing their customers to pay for the TV book product like Sac Bee and Kansas City.

I am curious if anyone has heard any chatter on possible layoffs given MNI first qtr was bad and the comments about April not being good leads me to believe that plans will soon be in motion to find additional expense cuts over the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

Are management simply dense elitists who simply do not care what their subscribers want, or is it worse than that?
It is much worse than that. First off, as a rule they have no business sense. I've seen publishers and editors that take pride in not understanding a thing about marketing, economics or business. An effect of their Liberal Arts degrees that teach little to nothing about the real world, but indoctrinates and legitimates the absurd.

Instead of finding solutions and competing, they instead declare their superior intellect and enlightenment. Why? Because that is what they have been taught to believe. They reject outright any possibility of having possibly been wrong.

Secondly, being completely unaccountable for their actions, they have loaded themselves to the brim with only like minded followers that were necessary to facilitate their ability to leverage their old monopoly.

Never a discouraging word is nice and comfortable when the money flows like wine, but when that stops they are left with nothing but the same model of inefficiency and self righteous indignation that they have been stuck with for years previously.

They're completely lost souls. You witnessed it just the other day with the N&O's complaint for posting a picture that they allegedly took. The last desperate attempt by a dedicated bunch of scoundrels is to try and litigate (read as: extort) money and damn the consequences. They don't even think to see how well that little plan worked out for the RIAA. Of course, neither did the RIAA until it was too late. They gave up the scam way to late as their benefactors reputation has been permanently scarred for at lest 2 generations.

To answer the other question, no they won't delete it, they will flood the category with nonsense forcing the link from plain sight.

McClatchy is famous for this. Especially after earnings when they report the earnings then flood the company news with trivia from CareerBuilder, forcing it from the listings.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:31 THANK YOU!

As an interested outsider and frustrated reader, I simply wanted to understand your businesses internal dynamics.

They seem to live in some weird denial, oxymoron like bubble that has crumbled around them

If your model holds true, like the McClatchy guy who got the cushy DMV job a few months ago, after the papers demise, they will find another job, all the while bragging of how they helped the company.

It is mind boggling

Anonymous said...

Raise the rates and lower your content all that you want to. I am a long time subscriber cancelling my subscription! Good Riddance to the disturber!