Post-Gazette raises single-copy prices by 33%
By Kim Leonard
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has raised single-copy prices to $1 for a daily paper and $2 for its Sunday edition.
The Sunday increase took effect on Aug. 26, and the newspaper began charging more for Monday through Saturday editions on Aug. 20. The prices increased from 75 cents for the daily and $1.50 for Sunday.
Randy Waugaman, director of audience for the newspaper owned by Toledo-based Block Communications Inc., declined to comment.
The 33 percent price increase applies to daily and Sunday copies of the P-G sold through retail outlets, according to a letter from the newspaper's audience department to independent dealers.
No price increases for Trib Total Media Inc. publications are planned at the moment, said CEO Ralph J. Martin, but they can't be ruled out because of rising costs. The Tribune-Review's single-copy price is 50 cents daily and $1.50 on Sunday.
Longtime industry analyst John Morton in Jessup, Md., said newspaper prices are trending up as advertising revenue shrinks, and more papers count on readers to cover a larger share of expenses.
Historically, ads have accounted for 75 percent to 80 percent of revenue for newspapers, with single-copy and subscription sales generating the rest.
But print newspapers overall are collecting less than half of the advertising dollars they did as recently as 2005, Morton said. European newspapers run on a different model, with readers contributing half or sometimes more of costs, he said.
Cost-cutting is under way elsewhere. The Patriot-News of Harrisburg announced plans Tuesday to publish printed editions only three days a week, cut some positions and focus on 24-hour online reporting. The changes are to take effect by January.
The Post-Standard of Syracuse, another paper owned by Advance Publications Inc., said it will switch to three print editions a week for economic reasons. Newspapers in other markets have taken similar steps, such as in Birmingham and New Orleans.
“Everyone is going to be watching what happens,” Morton said, adding the move could save on expenses but reduce circulation.
“It can't be good for journalism. No matter how much (the Patriot-News does) online, they're undermining the one strength that newspapers have over all other forms of journalism, and that is being able to assemble massive amounts, of information, particularly local information. That requires reporters, with feet on the ground.”
Martin said he and Trib Total Media owner Richard M. Scaife have talked about the steps some newspapers have taken to cut back on printed editions. “At this point, it would not do service to the community if we publish fewer than seven days a week,” he said.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or email@example.com.
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