The New York Times newsstand price for its Monday-Saturday paper just went from $2.00 a copy to $2.50. The news giant has steadily increased cover prices over the past few years as consumers have shifted to online sources for news.
Despite being affected by the same print downturn that affects all other newspapers, the NYT is still the third-largest print newspaper in the United States. The Times is available online free for “light” users, those who read 20 or fewer articles per month. There are smartphone apps available for iPhone and Android that channel Times content.
This latest price increase is yet another move by the old-school media titan making its way in the digital age. Back in 2002, The Times bought a fifteen percent stake in the Boston Red Sox, not because they had an interest in Red Sox baseball, but to get a piece of the New England Sports Network television channel that came with the team.
Indeed, many newspapers are changing their old business model for one that can remain profitable as more and more people get news via smartphone, tablet and laptop. Managers look for profit centers outside of the normal advertising sales and cover price that sustained papers throughout the 20th century.
For example, local papers may produce an entire insert for a single advertiser with a significant event, such as a job fair or grand opening. They may even assign writers to adorn the ad space with pseudo-articles that highlight topics that dovetail with the advertiser. This is one of many new approaches that smaller papers feel forced to take to keep their presses running. Others have turned to online video of news events, becoming de facto online television producers, with mixed results.
Finding ways to make these endeavors pay, via pay subscriptions, etc. has been the real challenge. So much news is available for free online that readers are loathe to pull out the plastic. Price increases like this one are sure to keep coming until the fateful day that paper is no longer viable, however far off that may yet be.