May 24, 2001
by Chris Feeney
What if there were no advertisements in the newspaper? The immediate effect would be that readers would not know when special events were being held, what items are on sale or what stores carry certain products they might be interested in purchasing. The long-term picture would be a little more difficult for these same readers to accept, as ultimately it would mean there would be no newspaper. That may be a bit drastic, as there would be one other option, dramatically increasing the subscription cost for the paper. Of course, if it cost $50 instead of $20 for one year of the Memphis Democrat, even the most dedicated readers might complain a bit about the prices.
I'll stop here and explain my point, because I don't want people to get the wrong idea. I'm not complaining about advertising. I am very pleased with our local advertisers for choosing the Memphis Democrat for their advertising needs. Instead I'm trying to send a message to the readers. Actually I want to ask a favor of our readership. If you see an advertisement in the newspaper and then go to that store and buy an item, let them know why. Please tell them that you saw their ad in the Memphis Democrat. Or if you appreciated the recent graduation insert or other special promotions we do in the paper, tell the sponsors. If you give them a thank you every once in a while, it will help us in the long run. Don't forget, it will help you too in the long run as advertising dollars help keep subscription rates lower.
This will be very important in the near future considering the recent postal rate increases. With the recent announcement of a second postage rate hike since January, the impact on newspapers is expected to be anywhere from one to nearly four-percent rate increases. That is on top of the six to nine percent increase in postage costs that went into effect in January meaning newspapers are expected to pay anywhere from seven percent, to nearly 13 percent higher postage costs than last year.
I will not go so far as to say "Read my lips, NO higher subscription rates," but at this time we do not plan to increase the rates. We hope with the support of the readers, who will obviously benefit from this decision, that we can undertake slight increases in advertising income to offset the postage price increases.