April 22, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if they did away with color television. We are so used to the beautiful shades and tones that the public would definitely protest. While we may not have the rainbow peacock associated with NBC TV, the newspaper has splashed in a few pretty images over the past couple of weeks to bring a little color to the paper.

While it might not come close to the furor that black and white TV would create, Iím afraid to imagine what folks will say when the paper goes back to black and white. Unfortunately I believe that may be the fate of the Memphis Democrat. We have pleased the readersí eyes these past few weeks with full color pages. But just like everything else, color costs, and boy does it cost.

The newspaper has tried to offset the cost with a color rate for advertisers. While no one will argue that color makes the ads stand out better, most businesses only have so much money budgeted for advertising. While they would love to have color ads, many simply cannot afford it on a regular basis.

It kind of reminds me of the tax system. When state funding dropped off for education, many politicians stated it was the duty of the local taxpayer to pick up the slack. Just like I believe that it is wrong to place the education funding burden fully on the property owners, it too is very difficult to require advertisers to pay the full cost of color. Advertising is what makes newspaper go. Without ads, subscription costs would be four or five times higher.

While it appears that color ads may not be the answer, we will continue to consider funding options to make the change to color a permanent transition.

One option would be to ask subscribers for a price hike. If the annual rate were raised $3.00 (or basically a nickel a week) that would cover half of the color printing cost.

I guess I would hope this piece would serve as sort of an unofficial poll. If you as a reader feel that color would be worth a few more dollars each year, let us know. I would also hope that readers realize this isnít simply a ploy to make more money Ė itís just an attempt to cover part of the costs of a service we feel makes the newspaper better for all involved.

You canít ever please everyone, but we will strive to make the best decision for the majority of readers.

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