S.F. Chronicle 50% Price Hike: Strategy to Move Readers Online


Courtesy www.iri.org/newsarchive/2008/2008-07-26-News-…

The continued downward spiral of print media advertising revenues has large American papers rethinking their strategy for survival. Unfortunately for consumers who prefer inky newsprint on their figertips and something to hold, the strategy of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, is a massive price increase. The SF Chronicle, not bothering to announce the increase, raised their newsstand price from .50 to .75 a whopping 50% increase. Adding insult to injury, the paper is offering less information-for more.

Trend Away from Print

“Want Ad” Advertising for employment, real estate, and other consumer goods has been severely hampered by the influx of sites like Craig’s list, blogs, and other social media sites that provide more strategically targeted information and advertising for free.

Survival Tactic

Now readers who enjoy traditional print media will have to pay more for the privilege of buying a paper off the newsstand or from their local paperboy. The reason for this is the fact that online advertising revenue is taking over as the prime income stream for many newspapers.

The Strategy

Sfgate.com the online newspaper for the San Francisco Chronicle is a vibrant example of what many news agencies are beginning to realize. A news site like sfgate.com is a massive blog. News stories, advertising, want ads, and other media placed everyday makes for a massive SEO machine. The sheer volume of information placed on sfgate.com everyday makes it a high traffic blog-website that ranks high on Google.

The Results

The S.F. Chronicle has a solid path to advertising revenue via it’s sfgate.com site. The paper has a chance to survive as it moves it’s operations online providing a vibrant and viable news product.

The consumer wins because the sfgate.com site is the SF Chronicle paper. Everyword is online for any reader willing to go to the site. The win for consumers is that the online version is FREE. Consumers willing to read their paper online don’t spend a dime. Is that not what Web 2.0 is all about?

8 thoughts on “S.F. Chronicle 50% Price Hike: Strategy to Move Readers Online

  1. Take a closer look at your math. It’s a 50% increase. In this economy, who wants to pay a 50% increase in anything. I have enjoyed reading the morning paper everyday with my cup of coffee. But not anymore. I probably could afford the increase but its principle to me that a service I have enjoyed all these years suddenly raise its rates at such an alarming rate that I am opting to not renew.

  2. A belated but timely comment. I live in Modesto and yesterday was shocked to find the newstand price of Sunday Chron has gone in one jump to $3.00. Was this systemwide including the Bay Area or just in the valley? Don’t know, but it seems a squeeze play to force either subscription which was already $35/mo or to online. I am not home to read daily so regularly buy three days a week including Sunday. This move is very frustrating and I see no notice of the price increase evident in the online sfgate version. Do you know anything more about this change?
    Many thanks,
    tom byrne

  3. Hi Tom,

    We pay $2.00 in San Rafael for a Sunday edition. The daily cost is $1 after years at .50 cents. The Chronicle is poorly run. They don’t announce price increases or try to explain the justification. They don’t ask for our help in understanding and they don’t acknowledge the gouging prices they used to charge (when they could get it) for their advertising.

    What I have heard is that they purchased new color printing press and they are trying to justify the cost increase due to this new and improved look. Reality says that the traditional channel to deliver news is almost gone and these decision makers feel they must scrape every last penny out of the public possible.

    It’s sad because, as you know, if you and I ran a business where we charged more (without notice) for less (the paper is shrinking) and acted as if we did not care–we would NO longer be in business.

  4. Dean,

    Many thanks for your prompt response. For whatever it is worth I will send my thoughts on this price increase to the Chron. I suppose when I consider that Time mag is now $4.95 for a single issue at the newstand, maybe the $3 is OK for the Chron. It is as you noted, frustrating when there is no notice or rationale provided. Sort of take it or leave it. Poor “customer relations” to say the least.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year!


  5. I was flabbergasted to see the Sunday Chronicle is now $3.00 here in San Leandro too! We’re just across the bay from the big city (23 miles to be exact). It wasn’t too long ago that it was a buck…then $1.50, then $2 (in 2008 I believe) and now another 50 per cent increase. As a 69 year old guy who has been reading the Chron religiously since I was a teenager I hate to say it but it’s time to break the habit! I’ve already pulled the plug on the daily edition which went to $1 just a short time after it went to 75 cents (from 50 cents). $3 is way too much for that paper which gets flimsier by the week! It’s sad but these outrageous price increases just another nail in the coffin of newspapers which I do dearly love! I also love to eat though and since I’m on a fixed income I have to make some choices. Herb Caen, Stanton Deleplane, Art Hoppe and Charles McCabe must be rolling over in their graves if they can witness what an overpriced and increasingly worthless rag their beloved paper has become!

  6. Pingback: S.F. Chronicle 50% Price Hike « Ben's Weblog

  7. I thought the declining number of readers on the bus was due to a dumbing down of the rest of hte riders. Wrong. I was the dumb one. The rest probably read the rest of hte news free online. “Free” is not a sustainable business model. I may try to see if their is a way to download onto Kindle like is advertised for the $5.99/month iPad version and to get the Sunday. I want my children to see the last few newspapers before they disappear completely. Hey, i went to J school. this is really hard for me to be a witness to the decline and fall of the 4th Estate. This should be the best of times.

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