Cancel Your Print Subscription, Save a Bundle, and Support Intellectual Diversity in Journalism

Newspapers with breakfast. End of an era.

I cut the cord today — I stopped subscribing to the print edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I’d been delaying the inevitable for a long time, but a 50-year habit of reading the newspaper over breakfast and coffee was hard to break.

Here’s what did it for me: The print-digital subscription is $70 per month. The digital-only subscription is $12 monthly. What am I getting for the extra $58 a month? Almost nothing. (My wife will miss the puzzles, but she’ll get over it.) When it came time to re-subscribe, I realized I could save almost $700 a year. To me, that’s not chump change.

That got me to thinking…. Bacon’s Rebellion readers, you can do it, too!

If you’re tired of subsidizing a publication whose news articles reflect a steadily constricting view of the world — the liberal/progressive worldview of newsroom editors and writers — stop being a doormat. Speak out in the only way that will make an impression. Cancel your print subscription. Then take half the money you save, donate it to Bacon’s Rebellion, and support intellectual diversity in Virginia media.

— JAB

There are currently no comments highlighted.

48 responses to “Cancel Your Print Subscription, Save a Bundle, and Support Intellectual Diversity in Journalism

  1. I have a left/progressive worldview and I write for BR

    • We like you, Peter, because you bring intellectual diversity to the publication.

    • By the way Peter I thought your UVA radio interview was excellent, save for last minute and a half by reason only of the fact I disagreed with your final thoughts on Trump (nothing new there). What really impressed me the most was the way you defected many of the host’s efforts to get you snarky and partisan. Terrific radio talking head work, fair, balanced and unafraid!

  2. I disagree totally with this recommendation. As a republic we need investigative journalism. Blogs don’t generally do it and largely can’t. Newspapers do, or at least used to. If we further cripple then with new cancellations they will fold. Subscribe today to your local newspapers regardless of their editorial position. America will whither without them.

  3. I also canceled in print rtd. There are several good news stories wach day but i do not like opinion section not because of any world view i just find it boring

  4. We have the same dilemma.. just got the bill yesterday and it was about $500.

    I asked them if , since one company now owns RTD and FLS and maybe a dozen others if there was an option to subscribe as a “bundle” and the answer was no.

    We DO have access to a PDF version of the print… I’m not sure if that comes as part of digital but it’s just like reading the print version.

    It’s literally a life-changing issue not to be overly dramatic, and we all were the unknowing beneficiaries of news subsidized by advertising just as we are right now with cable TV.

  5. Unless you take the dollars and immediately pay for several more digital subscriptions, I may disavow ever knowing you. This blog is not a substitute. My will may include provisions to maintain a newspaper subscription. (Better do that now.. cough, cough…)

    However the $414.75 my records indicate I paid in January is ridiculous, and I fully understand why average folks (like my kids) will never do that. Your departure, and Peter’s, is probably a dead canary in the coal mine they should heed. I can’t do it. But they are pricing themselves into oblivion. I pay the WaPo for an online subscription, and hardly agree with its world view. But I didn’t 30 years ago, either.

  6. We all know that newspapers are dying. The business strategy of their corporate owners is to milk as much cash from them as possible before they go under. One way to do this is to ratchet up subscription prices in order to squeeze as much as possible from old geezers, too set in their ways to change their reading habits, before they literally die off. The days of great investigative journalism by commercial newspapers are over. We are reaching the end of an era.

    The only question is what comes next. Right now, foundation-funded journalism like we see at The Virginia Mercury and Virginia Public Media is the only alternative… We need more.

    • Newspapers are not the content – the “news”.

      So far, WaPo and NYT and WSJ seem to still be doing the “news”.

      I never ever consider just one of them as the ultimate arbiter of truth and reality but when they all agree – that old “consensus” thing, I do think that really is a prevailing view of at least some rather than one person or one entities agenda-spin on something.

      I have yet to see that level of objectivity in any blog and trying to read several bogs like I would several papers – to gain some consensus view – is not so easy because so many of the blogs reflect the thinking of the guy that owns the blog. Newspaper so far are different – whether it be Bezos or Murdoch.

      We all grew up with “gatekeepers” of knowledge, facts and such. It was just a given. That world is no longer the same. No one author, or article or paper is to be wholly trusted across the board. On the other hand, there are plenty of places where you know before you go there that it’s going to be pure opinion.

    • Jim, I agree, more foundation-funded journalism seems to be where we have to go in the short run. A non-profit foundation can give financial stability to the publications involved, who compile a lot of info from other sources but seem to me to engage in minimal original reporting except for the occasional in-depth plunge into an issue. But at some point the salaries of all those reporters gathering and fact-checking the hard news at its source in all those communities around Virginia have to be paid. Or, as is happening, the local news disappears; then there is nothing for the compilers to compile.

      What is the revenue model that replaces this? There are people out there anxious for news about their communities and willing to pay someone for it; there are businesses desperate to advertise to those local communities. How can someone make a buck putting these groups together to pay the reporters to go out there to gather the news? Even the newspapers still hanging in there seem to be surviving based on remnant income from past business models, not new ones.

      • This discussion sent me to my bookshelf where I found The Technologies of Freedom … from my almost 30 years ago time at that liberal bastion in NY, The New School University where I went for my Masters. The book was written in the 80’s so it is highly speculative about online issues, but discusses what the author believes will surface as the print model and the regulated broadcast model stop being separated entities. “There will be less cost constraint to do business, consult, debate, and socialize within one’s own region only. There will be more freedom to do so with anyone anywhere with whom one finds affinity.”

        My question … is this ability to align only with one’s own affinity what has led us to the place where real facts can be disregarded and accusations and disinformation reign?

        You are all talking about price but no one has mentioned the issue that advertising, not subscription has supported newspapers. Acbar said maybe foundation supported news will expand. I for one can’t see what the revenue model is that will replace broadcast and news papers now that we can access info from all over everywhere which invalidates advertising as their financial base.

        Does signing up online for certain news topic only, which you can do at the NYT, just further silo us? How can we make our way through the proliferation of available facts to actually make the political judgments our republic requires us to make without real facts?

        Here is why I think this is scary … Met a woman yesterday on the way to our mail boxes who started ranting about how Nancy Pelosi lies. I said I didn’t think so, but what lie was she concerned about. I said I would like to go home and look it up. What was the subject of Pelosi’s lies? Thing is she simply couldn’t tell me. Just kept repeating “Pelosi lies”. WOW!

        Disinformation rules evidently … in the brain reading is rationale and sound is emotional. The less we get through reading the more emotional the content. Campaigns of disinformation by some businesses are modeled on the tobacco campaign. The one front and center right now is the campaign by Monsanto that only got them in deeper trouble. Roundup, banned in Europe, is now losing jury cases. The weed killer has even been measured in your beer and wine, and soon 85,000 lawsuits against Monsanto and Bayer, who bought Monsanto, may be settled for $10-Billion.

        If facts are gone and information segregated by affinity groups does that mean we only left to argue facts in the Courts? Scary!

        • re: ” My question … is this ability to align only with one’s own affinity what has led us to the place where real facts can be disregarded and accusations and disinformation reign? ”

          Yes. Ongoing…….

  7. I get the pilot online and like. I do not think newspapers are dying. Their ranks are thinning and changing. I think non profits stattups like the virginia mercury are great. Some on this blog think they are a liberal bogeyman but that’s just right wing nonsense

    • The funny thing is that one wonders what keeps a Conservative version of the Mercury from being born.

      It seems like all the Conservatives can do is complain about the papers they don’t like.

      Must be something in the genes…

      • I actually know a GOP political consultant whose specialty is social media. I asked him a similar question, and his explanation for the lack of conservative media at a local/state level was interesting: Most conservatives already believe every level of gov’t (fed’l, state, and local) is corrupt. They don’t need to pay someone to write what they already “know.” It does make sense on a certain level. If you already believe that the Board of Supervisors and School Board is corrupt and wastes money on a daily basis, why do you need to pay $100 or more a year for someone to write that the BOS or School Board wastes money?

        * One side note to this question from my own personal observation: There are conservative talk radio shows in most major metros. That may fulfill most conservatives’ appetite for news.

        • Cable TV, Talk Radio, Facebook, Twitter, think tanks and PACs are favorite places for Conservatives…

          I don’t know about the “corruption” idea as a lot of it is GOP… their share of it for sure… Check out Donor’s Trust which basically launders money from anonymous donors thence to intended recipients.

          We have Conservatives on our BOS – and the funny thing is that every single one of them works for the US govt in NoVa!

          There are many Conservative media also like the Washington Examiner, Breitbart, the Daily Caller, the Federalist, etc..

          they just hate the liberal media… and they envy it because when push comes to shove – despite it’s bias – it also still does hard news and investigative news less biased that most Conservative media which often starts out at the get-go with a clear axe to grind.

          I almost never find an article in Conservative media that is straight up objective… you sorta know from the front what it’s going to be – with the exception of WSJ… on their hard news side.

          my 2cents worth obviously

    • Peter, isn’t anyone who reports the real facts and calls the rumormongers for what they are, a “liberal bogeyman”?

    • With all due respect, Peter, newspapers ARE dying. And rapidly. In fact, 166 U.S. newspapers have stopped putting out a print edition or closed down altogether since 2008. Good newspapers, too. The Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot – one entity – are on life support. The hedge fund that will gain full control of those papers later this year will strip them and leave them for dead. At its peak, in the 1990s, The Pilot newsroom had 298 full-time employees. From information garnered from people still working there, the shared newsroom staff with The Press now numbers in double digits. As newspapers die, websites like this one and mine will try to fill the void. Not ideal, I’ll admit. Sure, the WSJ, NYT and WaPo will survive. Local newspapers are circling the drain.

  8. An earlier incentive to go digital on newspaper (and magazine) subscriptions for us has been having a second home. A digital subscription is portable between locations; it’s also available while waiting in doctors offices, etc. Nevertheless it still took some getting used to; I miss — as you say — the absence of those broadsheet pages hovering over the coffee in the morning. I’m still drawn to the online “print format” edition of the Washington Post or the Wall St Journal, scanning the pages there, then clicking on the articles of interest to expand them in the online format. Something I’m very glad I bought is a large-screen computer pad (in my case a Pixel Go) that can be held vertically in “portrait” mode; this displays the “printed” page large enough to read not only the headlines but the text of articles right there, without clicking through to the on-line text which is heavily punctuated with ads.

    The Mathews-Gloucester Gazette Journal is doing OK for a local paper, with a well-executed online .pdf presence for us out-of-towners, but the loss of so many local papers in NoVa, and the decline of the MSM in Richmond and Hampton Roads, is still shocking. It just hasn’t sunk in how life would be diminished without the WaPo’s news and opinions to rail about, or its local Metro and Style sections to keep up with local affairs, because they are very much still there. Perhaps the Grahams sold to the devil when they cut the deal with Bezos, but it’s enabled business-as-usual and enthusiasm at the Post. Not so much at Media General.

  9. You can buy a lot of crossword puzzle books for $58 a month…

  10. I get the post in print and the times online. The times annoys me because they lead with
    “Most popular”’stories. I want real news

    • I know someone who actually works at a real newspaper. He tells me that in the newsroom there is a big wall screen that has the articles they published with the number of web “hits” next to each. The number of hits informs them as to what readers want – or not.

  11. The answer, in my opinion, is for news (and opinion) outlets to stop selling only bundled news called newspapers – either paper or digital. Why would I ever subscribe to the Richmond Times-Dispatch? Well, I am interested in Virginia politics and major development efforts in Richmond. However, I could care less about Henrico County’s high school sports or the obituaries from Richmond.

    Why can’t I purchase on an article-by-article basis? Under this scenario a news clearinghouse company would let me set up a master account with a pre-payment of, let’s say, $25.00. I could use that account to view articles from a wide variety of newspapers for, let’s say, 10 cents apiece. For about 6 months of an online subscription to the RTD I could read 250 articles from a variety of newspapers. The alternative for the RTD from me is $0 since I’ll never pay $58 a year for 95% clutter and random musings I don’t care about.

    The other advantage of per-article pricing is that it opens the door to part time and junior journalists. Given that it would cost the RTD nearly nothing to consider articles submitted by “stringers” (I think that’s the right term) a fair number of talented people would develop articles, submit them for publication and take 1/2 of the 10 cents per article payout. 5 cents times 10,000 views is $500 – far from a fortune but a decent “side gig” for an aspiring journalist trying to make it in the news business.

    • I, too, like the clearinghouse idea.

      It would create a market for independent publications like Bacon’s Rebellion, Blue Virginia and other blogs.

      • What would differentiate articles from BR from articles from independent individual authors?

        Why bundled under BR at all?

        • Branding. A common spot to find a diverse set of opinions on “Reinventing Virginia for the 21st Century”. I’d assume some number of articles would be free as an inducement to visit the site. Others would have a teaser and then a price. However, the same articles might be reposted on other sites too. I also think that the former journalists on this site could edit the submitted articles (as part of their “cut” of the revenue). They could also do some basic fact checking. Assuming that … if I wrote a per-article-priced post I’d put it on BaconsRebellion. I’d also post it elsewhere but would include “Originally posted on BaconsRebellion” assuming the BR editing and fact checking would make it more likely to be read no matter where it was posted.

          • I often do searches for “news” using keywords. Sometimes, it’s an iterative process where I find more keywords in the searches and then use them in subsequent searches.

            More often than not, I get a fair number of “hits”. I DO pay attention to the URLs. I often note the author and if not familiar will do a search on the author also. Now days, there is a wide variety of “journalists” with varying backgrounds.

            While its true, there are few “mainstream” conservative news sites like WSJ, there is a plethora of very conservative sites that primarily are targeted to Conservatives and more often than not, have a Conservative perspective of events and are not intended to appeal to people who are not Conservatives.

            Some refer to this as the “echo chamber”

            These sites are all over the internet. dozens, hundreds..

            and for instance, if one would do a search with the terms: fauci, deep state and similar, one would see dozens of Conservative web sites postulating that Fauci is a Clinton Stooge trying to damage Trump and worse… silent coup, etc.

            Non-MSM Sites like Buzzfeed ( Right-Wing Influencers Are Convinced Dr. Anthony Fauci Is Working With Hillary Clinton To Undermine Donald Trump), or

            Politico ( Anthony Fauci becomes a fringe MAGA target) and

            Axios (Fauci: “I can’t jump in front of the microphone” during coronavirus briefings) have articles about views from the right that think Fausi is part of a deep state conspiracy.

            So, the idea that the MSM is the primary voice of “news” is not the reality. MSM are the most visible news sites, but there are far, far, more Conservative media sites not as visible and many dwell on deep state and conspiracy theories.

            If one does some simple keyword searches like ” QAnon trump coronovirus” – as they say: “read all about it” …

            My point here is not to disparage conservative media but to point out that despite all the complaints about how liberal MSM (like Wapo and NYT) “dominate the news” , there is a rich Conservative media ecosystem right in front of us – but few liberals or even moderates are aware of it as it primarily is intended for Conservatives.

            Some moderate/traditional Conservatives will dismiss the legitimacy of some of these far right sites, I only point out that they do have a substantial audience and it looks like it matches up with FOX which also promotes conspiracy theories. People like Lou Dobbs, Hannity, Trish Reagan, Jeanine Pirro, and numerous others actively promote deep-state conspiracy and “coup” narratives on what they call their “entertainment” time slots (as opposed to hard news that folks like Sheppard Smith used to do).

            So when we talk about what is to become of newspapers – that’s not really the issue. The real issue is what is to become of “news”, facts, realities that is authentic and true when it is now competing with many other views of what they believe whether actually true or not …
            so try this: ” fauci is part of deep state”

            and you’ll get a mix of sites from MSM to non-MSM to far right to conspiracy theory sites.

            so where is the “truth” on this issue? there are lots of versions.

            And someone talked about “censorship” of news… again.. just exercise your search engine and you’ll see everything (until they convince GOOGLE to censor …a very dangerous idea IMHO).

    • Importantly, there exists the highly refined algorithms to sort, slice, dice, and aggregate the news into powerful packages and clusters, that can serve many purposes to suite many variant needs.

      One the other hand, Jim’s print-digital subscription of $70 per month for RTD tells the whole sad story. That is mind blowing. The WSJ print/ digital is great bargain by comparison.

  12. re: ” Why can’t I purchase on an article-by-article basis?”

    So Devils’advocate question.

    Why do you need a newspaper then? Why not just a clearinghouse of
    articles by different folks?

  13. Burning books is a good idea too.

  14. No Sears catalog and now no newspapers.

    What are we supposed to do when we run out of toilet paper?

  15. I agree with Peter that the RTD opinion section, particularly their editorials, are boring.

    Although it’s outrageously expensive, WSJ has taken the place of NYT as the paper of record and is clearly the best paper out there. It may surprise the liberals amongst you that an independent study found, I think it was some 10 years ago, that the WSJ news coverage, as opposed to its editorial stance, was the most liberal in the country.

    When I lived in DC in the early 70’s, we got four newspapers every day, the Post, NYT, WSJ and the Evening Star. The Star ceased in the early 80’s, and all but WSJ have fallen into the “dis” category: disrepair, dysfunction, disrepute, disrespect, disturbed.

    Steve, WSJ has gotten really expensive unless you are willing to haggle with them. I have to call every six months when the reasonably priced “special” price expires and tell them I’m cancelling the subscription unless they reup at the price I was paying. Jim, you might do the same thing with RTD. I’ve been paying 20 bucks a month for seven days print and digital, which I find not outrageously unreasonable. I pay just under $200 for WSJ. Haggle!

  16. johnrandolphofroanoke

    Young people consider print news totally dead. They are not wired for mainstream news either. Young folks get everything from Spacebook, Instant Telegram, Snaptalk, Zipper, and TicTac.

    • Thanks Reed! I need to renew my WSJ subscription. Their news stories get right to the point. The Post has a habit if over writing but i really like their coverage. I dislike the journal’s editorials. When i worked for business week in new york, we used to have softball games. One got so hot there was almost a brawl. We vowed never to play the Journal again.

  17. Well for young folks, the whole idea of “news” is probably different.

  18. My wife thought the Post was too expensive and caused her to waste too much time about a dozen years ago. A couple times a month, I may read an article online. It’s local reporting was pretty good for a while but the editorial board has pressured reporters not to dig into issues opposed to the editorials. The Post misses lots of big news.

    I’m still friendly with reporters, even from the Post. In fact, I gave a lead to a Post reporter earlier this year. He followed up and wrote a story. I once did a 2 1/2 hour interview with an editor and two reporters. Try that sometime. I’ve postponed billable work to meet their deadlines.

    But there’s no reason to pay money to read censored articles.

  19. I have found that several libraries will give their patrons access to apps like PressReader which has a huge collection of newspapers worldwide. I now use that to read the Daily Press on my tablet every day.
    For those who are in or retired from the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard, you can get access through https://www.navymwrdigitallibrary.org/

  20. From the New York Post:

    $349B stimulus comes too late to save many newspapers

    The reeling US newspaper industry will be eligible to tap a portion of the $2 trillion stimulus package that contains $349 billion earmarked for small businesses.

    But the potential rescue package comes too late to help dozens of newsrooms that have been slashing jobs as shuttered local businesses stop advertising. News advertising has plummeted between 20 and 30 percent in the past two weeks compared to a year ago, according to the International News Media Association.

    We don’t pay anyone at Bacon’s Rebellion (not at the present time, at least), and we don’t carry advertising. COVID-19 won’t hurt our business model, based as it is on the contributions of aging geezers, most of whom are on Social Security! Contributions still welcome…. assuming anyone out there can afford to make them!

Leave a Reply