Oh, I'm so (not) thrilled to learn via a USA Today postcard that came in the mail today that, as of August 1, 2018, my Statesman Journal newspaper subscription will be charged $3 each time an unwanted Premium Edition is delivered to me.
This is the newest scam being foisted upon us Gannett subscribers, who, here in Salem, Oregon and I presume elsewhere, have had to endure massive subscription rate increases while the quality of the reporting in our local paper steadily declines.
Here's my blog posts about the rate increases:
Salem Statesman Journal seems to be scamming subscribers
Statesman Journal outrage: New subscribers charged half of what loyal subscribers pay
Cancel your Statesman Journal subscription for 30 days to save $500 a year
Now, to be fair to Statesman Journal staff, who do the best they can while working under the thumb of their evil Gannett Corporation overlords, the rate increases are the responsibility of USA Today executives such as Barbara Smith, VP of Customer Service.
(That's an ironic title, for sure.)
And so is the Premium Edition scam, as evidenced by the front of the postcard.
I'm calling being charged $3 for every unwanted Premium Edition a scam, but I'm sure USA Today/Gannett attorneys would gleefully point out to me and other hapless subscribers the information on the web page referenced in the "For further details..." section of the postcard.
Why, who knew that such a web page existed?
Silly me thought that when I signed up for a Monday-Sunday home delivery subscription to the print edition, what I was going to get (and pay for) was a Statesman Journal newspaper every day. But the Subscription Terms, which I bet virtually every subscriber reads as often as the Facebook terms of service, say otherwise.
So lucky me will be getting an unknown number of Premium Editions throughout the year, starting August 1. The postcard provides a teaser of the subjects that will provide the content for these USA Today collector items.
Which, actually, I won't be collecting, because they'll be thrown in our recycling bin as soon as they arrive.
"America's Landmarks and Hidden Gems"
"A Day of Infamy: December 7, 1941"
Naturally I was curious about what other Premium Editions USA Today has foisted upon the nation. These are some of the titles that can be bought in the USA Today online store for $4.95, a price that, by an amazing coincidence, happens to be exactly 495 pennies more than I'd be willing to pay for any of them.
"A Royal Wedding: Special Commemorative Edition"
"Billy Graham: 'America's Pastor'"
"Elvis Rocks On"
(That last one would really find its way into the recycling bin, pronto.)
Some Googling led me to the conclusion that these USA Today Premium Editions are a new Gannett scam, since I couldn't find any sign that people have been complaining about them.
I did, though, find a kindred spirit in Michigan, Rebecca Foster, who has criticized the previous Gannett scam of charging extra for local premium editions. I liked the sarcastic title of a blog post, "'New Premium Edition' will cover local news!"
I just received a postcard about the special "Sunday Premium Edition" of the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.
Apparently, I've "asked for more content relevant to my area" - and it's true I, personally, have grumbled often on social media and in conversation about the lack of actual local coverage, the increasing use of stock Gannett pieces, and the inclusion of USA Today articles and entire sections, as if USA Today was a paper that anyone actually reads outside waiting areas, airports or hotel rooms. But it's not like anyone from Gannett actually asked for my opinion.
My subscription - and it goes on to list what is currently included - will now "include an exclusive, special Sunday premium section on popular local topics four times per year." Except the subscription rate for this "premium edition" will be $1 each, and will be added to my bill. So, really, you are simply increasing my subscription rate to cover the occasional local content that I should be getting from my local paper every day. Right?
A few days later Foster wrote a similar piece for what appears to be an alternative paper in her town. It was called, "Gannett defines 'premium edition' and 'local content' for me; it's an epic fail." Here's a right-on excerpt:
Plenty of people have already bemoaned the decline of print journalism, or even any kind of journalism at all (recently, the Huffington Post proudly declared that they do not pay their bloggers, because paying for writer product somehow makes it less honest). Small community papers, through no fault of their own, get gobbled up by the news conglomerates, and become less of a news outlet and more of a revenue stream for the parent company.
None of which is in the control of the Livingston Daily Press & Argus. But when the “boss” doesn’t give a damn about quality content, then it becomes increasingly difficult to be bothered to provide it at the local level.