August 16th, 2012
RIP Newspapers

The Kansas City Star refers to it simply as a “rate adjustment.”

Others might refer to it by another, stronger, term.

Either way, the McClatchy-owned paper has “adjusted” its Wednesday through Sunday subscription rates for home delivery from $117 last year to $169.49 this year.

That is an astounding increase of 44.9%!

Keep in mind, this increase comes at a time when the newspaper has lost more than half of its editorial staffers and subscribers in the past decade, seen the overall size and editorial content shrink to levels never before seen, and outsourced many jobs to foreign countries.

Many of its leading columnists such as Jeffrey Flanagan, Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski are long gone.  TV critic Aaron Barnhart has not written a word in 2012..

A representative of the Star’s Customer Service Department says the $117 was an introductory rate for new customers. The 45% increase is simply a rate adjustment.

Ironically, in the Thursday edition of the Star is a special offer “Reserved for the readers of The Kansas City Star” from the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ is offering 6-day delivery (as opposed to the Star’s 5-day delivery) for $119.88.

Newspaper veterans know the tricks to avoid the Star’s lofty increase.  First, stop the paper for one month. At that point the Star’s circulation folks will begin bombarding you relentlessly with calls.  You then can re-subscribe again as a “new” customer at the $117 rate. Many customers have been doing this for years to avoid outlandish rate increases.

It seems a silly process to go through and a risky marketing strategy for the newspaper.  In reality, the paper loses a month of subscriber income and then it can only hope that its loyal customers do not get out of the habit of receiving the newspaper or do not choose to subscribe to USA Today,  the Wall St. Journal or any other publication.

It is a risk the Kansas City Star seems willing to take.


11 Responses

  1. Zack says:

    Over the years the Star has drifted further and further to the ideological left, while the community it serves is largely conservative. If not for its sports page the Star would have been hemoraging subscribers even faster than it has been.

    The Star is dead, it just doesn’t know it yet.

  2. David Remley says:

    This reminds me of when I had DSL as my internet provider. Cost kept going up and up with no bump in speed at all. So, now I’m with another provider. Costs need to be closely related to product… increase in cost should mean a better product.

  3. Rick Nichols says:

    Outsourcing, of course, was one of the primary topics author and former Star employee Jim Steele addressed during his presentation last night (August 15) at the Kansas City public library. He didn’t discuss outsourcing within the newspaper industry, however, although it certainly has been going on to one degree or another. Suffice it to say it’s a disturbing trend and one that doesn’t bode well for the future of the industry.
    That said, despite the higher cost, The Star remains in my opinion a better value than just about anything else I can think of in the greater Kansas City area. Dollar for dollar, it still delivers more “bang for the buck.” Notice that earlier I didn’t say “entertainment value” when describing the paper because I don’t like to think of The Star as being in the entertainment business like the Royals, the Chiefs, Starlight, the new Performing Arts Center, etc.
    However, The Star could be providing a lot more “meat and potatoes” on a daily basis by reducing both its sports coverage and its FYI package, which are entertainment-oriented by nature, substituting in their place more hard news, especially of the suburban or regional variety. Or it could beef up its coverage of national and world events, as some have suggested.
    Finding just the right balance between information content and entertainment content is easier said than done, of course, but I’d start by reassigning some of these wannabe columnists to a regular beat. Having your own column should be a reward for having labored in the field as a reporter for at least 10 years.
    Anyway, your picture suggests that perhaps it’s about time to write the “obituary” for America’s newspapers, in which case Thomas Jefferson’s “nightmare” of a nation with a government and yet no newspapers will have come true. Given the choice, he always preferred the reverse.

  4. Bob says:

    “Newspaper veterans know the tricks to avoid the lofty increase. First, stop the paper for one month. At that point the Star’s circulation folks will begin bombarding you relentlessly with calls. You then can re-subscribe again as a “new” customer at the $117 rate. Many customers have been doing this for years to avoid outlandish rate increases”

    That’s what I do. And during that month I don’t have a subscription I just take the one from work at the end of the day.

    And, no, I’m not paying to read it online.

  5. Mike says:

    …and, on the other hand, this is the company that is toying with establishing a paywall for online viewing, though for the privilege of spending more dough, we get the same number of banner ads, not to menton the bombardment of those inspid popups.
    It’s not my civic duty as a citizen to support this nonsensical plan for the good of my “local voice”.

  6. Former Subscriber says:

    So tell me this, when the Star runs off all of it’s subscriber’s of the print edition, and then starts doing the same for the online subscribers… what’s next?

    • Kevin says:

      Google News, that’s what.

      • Dave says:


        If you’re being sarcastic, that’s funny.

        If you’re serious, you’re an idiot.

        • Loneta Bruce says:

          NOTE FOR KC STAR
          I ordered your paper for my husband,Sunday thru thursday. I have called and reported deliver failer for quite some time. Many times, at first, I did not report no delivery as I felt it was someone new or car problems ect. Now several missed times later, I have reported non-delivery several times, to voice mail, called and talked with responsible people on the phone and to now avail. I have left voice mails to the (1) to the editoral vice president, no answer except they are out of the office. I will say we have missed at least 1/3 of the papers. No, we are not happy. We have been subscribers for many years and just are not happy campers. If something cannot be corrected, please return our money. Regretfully, Loneta Bruce, 18106 25Rd St., Harrisonville, Mo. 64701. Telephone # 816-380-5921.

  7. Former Subscriber 2 says:

    Due to the recent “rate adjustment”, I too will be cancelling my subscription.

    I also reviewed their automatic deductions from my checking account and there is no consistency. In the past year deductions were made on the 3rd Tuesday, 2nd Thursday, 1st Tuesday, 4th Monday, 3rd Thursday, 2nd Wednesday, 2nd Monday and 1st Monday.

    Also, they don’t give credit for when you stop your paper for a vacation. Supposedly, my subscription for that week is donated to a school. How do I really know that happens?

    The rates have been going up, but the content has been dwindling. There’s enough information on the web and cable news that I don’t need the aggravation of higher costs and inconsistent payment deductions.

    • JohnLandsberg says:

      USA Today gives customers the option of “donating” their papers to a school or to credit their account when customers are on vacation. The KC Star just keeps the money.

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