Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Miami Herald alienates loyal reader

In five or ten years, when newspapers have completely disappeared, someone will write a book that will list the reasons for their demise.

Newspaper executives like to blame the Internet and Google for their troubles.

Well, no one forced newspapers to give away their content.

Those same executives have come up with another idea to hasten the death of their industry.

They are now charging readers extra to read ads.

Believe it or not, there are people who still get a newspaper delivered to their homes. Old habits are hard to break.

Look at this email I received last night from a Coral Gables woman who says she's a regular Random Pixels reader and who's also been subscribing to the Miami Herald for 30 years.
In the mail today, I got a colorful oversized postcard from The Miami Herald with a big illustrated turkey and the headline: The Miami Herald has BIG PLANS coming your way this Thanksgiving Day!

The copy goes on to say: As a Miami Herald subscriber, you can look forward to our LARGEST EDITION OF THE YEAR on Thanksgiving Day. You'll get the latest news, sports, business and lifestyle coverage as always. PLUS your paper will be STUFFED full of valuable coupons and sales circulars from all your favorite retailers. With Black Friday deals to kick off the holiday shopping season!

Odd, I think... why promote the obvious, everyone knows the Thanksgiving paper is filled with ads, even in a down economy.

And then at the bottom in small print it says: An additional $1.00 will be assessed to all subscribers for the increased size and value of the Thanksgiving Day Nov 25) edition. If you have any questions, please call us toll-free at 1-800 THE-HERALD.


I will call them, again, and ask the same question I ask every so often when there's a boneheaded idea: Can you remind me why I should continue subscribing to this lame newspaper?
In a follow-up email she says:
I come from a family who always subscribed to the paper. But my sister said she cancelled six months ago (after 30 yrs) and hasn't missed it. I keep subscribing because their website is worse than bad. And yes, i pay for online subscriptions when they're worth it.
I don't know if this is the first time the Herald has charged extra for the paper on Thanksgiving Day.

But last year, the Kansas City Star - which like the Herald, is a McClatchy paper - tried the same thing.

Note that the wording in the Star's sales pitch is similar to the one received by the Coral Gables Herald reader: "The Kansas City Star has BIG PLANS for your Thanksgiving Day edition and holiday shopping.”

The Herald's print readership continues to decline. Recent figures show "daily circulation dropped 6.9 percent daily [down to 151,612], with Sunday circulation sliding by 9.9 per cent [down to 214,891 copies]."

Geez, I wonder why?

Even most politicians know that it's not wise to alienate your base.

And that makes me wonder if Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez has taken a part-time job giving advice to the folks in the Herald's circulation department.


  1. I still read the Herald online, but find it less and less compelling. This turkey of an idea to charge more when ad support fluffs up should go a long way to kill of several more subscribers.

  2. "Confused in Coral Gables"... I couldn't agree more!!!!

  3. Why anyone still advertisers in a newspaper is beyond me. In this economy, it's money that could be going to workers.

  4. How many feet does the Herald have, to keep shooting itself in?
    (A neighbor recenly called there with a circulation problem and was connected to a call center in India. Friendly folks, he said, but overall a turnoff for a "local" paper.)

  5. I just got an e-mail announcing the Herald's plan to assess me the extra dollar. I called them to complain about it ("I'd guarantee that the newshole in the Thanksgiving Day paper won't be any larger than any other day in the year, and the advertisers are paying you to print/distribute their ads. Why charge me extra?")

    They credited me in advance for the dollar. They don't even argue or discuss -- apparently they're programmed to easily roll over.


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