The Importance of 15 Cents

Sunday, December 23, 2007
The Washington Post recently announced that the newsstand price of a daily paper would increase from 35 cents to 50 cents. For all the naysayers who spend their days decrying the fall of printed matter this surely seemed like another proof, another "you see?" moment.

But before we all rally around the 15 cents as a sign that the Post is faltering and bringing the news industry down with it, let's just think for a second about the other Post, the one that deserves a whole lot fewer accolades. That would be the New York Post. The one that momentarily brought its prices up to 50 cents before caving to the merciless teasing of The New York Daily News who spent a week at the 25 cent price and scared the bejeezus out of the Post. That was a 25 cent increase, which would have made a tabloid paper cost 15 more cents than the acclaimed and famed Washington Post, which is notably still 75 cents cheaper than the very-expensive New York Times. People usually have to pay more for quality products. Why should that be any less true for the Post? I would gladly stick an extra dime and nickel in the machine for my Post if I didn't get it for free already. And the most encouraging part? People are still subscribing to the Post, just not buying it off the newsstands as much. And newsstand sales is not the most important source of revenue for the Post. In short, I remain stubbornly optimistic, even if a Post reporter that I know is worried about encouraging bright-eyed little girls to go into journalism because she doesn't know what the industry will look like in 10 years. Still, I believe in the future of newspapers.

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

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