He mockingly says the publisher has “come up with a novel way of raising revenue – increasing cover prices to the level that ensures fewer people buy their titles”.
He dwells on reader reaction to the increases, some of which have been as high as 50 per cent.
Of course people are upset about having to pay more for their local paper. No surprise there. Who welcomes paying more for anything (even though newspapers have been under-priced for years)?
Greenslade concludes with a bitter swipe at Newsquest.
“Its only raison d’être is to return the greatest possible profits to its US parent. The long-term health of the British newspaper industry – and the trade of journalism – is of no consequence to Gannett’s board and its investors,” he says.
But his argument is emotional and ill-informed.
Newsquest is asking readers to pay more, but it is also investing more sales revenue into improving its papers by introducing more pages and new sections in many of them.
It might, of course, backfire. Readers, appalled at the price rises, might desert their newspapers in their droves.
But they might not. Sufficient might stay, and the extra sales revenue contributed would help replace falling income from advertising.
And what is the alternative? Closing newspapers and sacking staff, as other newspaper groups have done?
Surely, as a journalist Greenslade should be singing Newsquest’s praises.
Because this is a strategy that deserves not derision, but admiration.
It is bold, it is different and it is an expression of faith in the ability of newspapers to continue delivering a profit and, yes, supporting the trade of journalism.
- Disclosure: I am a Newsquest employee.