Back in January I finally canceled my subscription to the daily newspaper. Tough (and symbolic) thing to do. I’ve always subscribed to the local paper. My paper had become thinner and thinner as the stories I used to buy it for drained away with cuts in space and staff. Many of the stories were now being written by interns.
I’m an online guy, and I get most of my news online. Still, it seemed important to support the local newspaper. Even when the width of the paper was trimmed to about the size of a tab. Holding it in my hands just seemed… wrong.
So when Hearst announced it was going to close the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if it couldn’t find a buyer in 60 days, I decided I would leave the P-I before it left me (I never did like being the one who was left). When I called to cancel, they offered me a steep discount – half off. I said no, and for good measure, told them it was because they had cut so much of their arts coverage.
A week later, someone from the Times/P-I circulation department called with an even better deal. For only a couple dollars a week, I could be restarted. They didn’t want to lose me. I said no, and repeated my line about the loss of stories I liked and the shrinking of the paper. “Yes, but it’s only a couple bucks a week!” the guy said. Yeah, said I, but that doesn’t matter if what I wanted was no longer there.
A couple of months later the P-I closed. The rival Times, which ran the joint subscription business side of the operation automatically transferred former P-I subscribers to Times clients. This week I’ve had two calls from the Times. First, they wanted to “reward” me for being a “loyal” subscriber by giving me a free subscription. No, I said.
The next day someone else called to offer me a subscription for 24 cents a week. That’s only $10 a year! exclaimed the agent. How could I pass that up? Pretty easily, I said, to his professed astonishment. Only $10!
“So cheap they can’t give it away.” An expression my dad used to use from time to time. Now I understand. Maybe it’s churlish not to support the local papers by subscribing. But I’m surprised by how offended I am at the way they have run their businesses. By how they have offered less and less. By how they have repeatedly insulted the intelligence of the readers who cared about them. I’m sorry the P-I is gone. But now it’s time to move on.