Best Laid Plans . . . - The Missourian: Opinion

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Best Laid Plans . . .

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 2:00 pm

There were several meetings and long discussions about raising the single-copy price of The Missourian for the issue right before Thanksgiving. Since this usually is the largest in advertising issue of the year, many newspapers charge more for a single copy. The reason is higher overall production costs.

So The Missourian’s leadership team decided to charge $1.25 for this issue, the past week’s Wednesday edition. To make the change we had to have signs at our single-copy outlets that indicated the $1.25 price for the Nov. 21 issue. Other changes had to be made in our vending machines and other details were addressed. We moved up all deadlines so we could get on the press early because of the extra handling required with more than 30 inserts, several quite heavy. Everything appeared to be going smoothly, deadlines were met, but . . .

On the masthead, or flag, on the front page we always include the single-copy price, which normally is 75 cents. Others, including this editor, missed changing the price to $1.25. The press run began. As usual, several of the news staff go to the pressroom to check the run. The editor was a little late in doing this and several thousand papers were printed with the 75-cent price. Finally, the editor and our circulation manager noticed the mistake at about the same time. We shut down the press, a new front page plate was made, and other measures were taken to cover the 75-cent price with $1.25.

The Missourian staff pulled together quickly to remedy the editor’s mistake. He should be fired. The problem is he’s too old to get a job anywhere else and there’s considerable sympathy at The Missourian.

Proofreading is becoming a thing of the past. Some newspapers have eliminated those jobs. Many newspapers rely on editors to check copy as always is the case.

However, at many smaller newspapers the editors have countless other duties, including writing stories, and there are constant interruptions. The time to check every story that goes in the paper is impossible. Proofreaders catch many mistakes. They weren’t informed of the price change. Newspapers have spellcheck on their computers, which is helpful,

but not 100 percent error-proof. There always are mistakes — always have been and always will be.

The bar code was correct.

We feel strongly that newspapers have a high value and to charge only 75 cents for a single copy is nothing short of ridiculous. A cup of coffee today is $1.75 or more at most restaurants. Other items we purchase on a regular basis have increased in price. Admission prices to events of all kinds have gone up.

The large Nov. 21 issue was well worth $1.25. It was jammed with advertising: many items were listed at lower prices to be excellent bargains. To take advantage of a single item saved the consumer much, much more than $1.25. The community news in any issue has a priceless value in many instances.

The Missourian singlecopy price soon will go to $1. Like too many other newspapers, we stayed at 75 cents too long. Every item we purchase that is necessary to publish a newspaper has gone up — often, sometimes more than twice a year. We will have to increase our subscription prices also. We haven’t had a subscription price increase for many years.

To increase prices is nothing more than recognition that our newspaper has value and for too long we’ve been selling it for a price that is not realistic in today’s world. Like other businesses, we can only absorb the rising cost of doing business for so long. Not to act is to ignore practicing good business judgment!

/opinion