Monday, August 20, 2012

Phoenix | Readers turn the table on editor Lovely

In a column yesterday about The Arizona Republic’s plans for sharply higher subscription prices, Editor Randy Lovely says the Phoenix paper has learned investigative reporting matters most of all to readers. He also promises “we're on your side when it comes to consumer protection.”

But it took the readers themselves to suss out the truth about the real consumer impact of what Lovely calls the new “full-access subscription” to be launched in the weeks ahead. That's because his 892-word column about the looming paywall never directly acknowledges prices are going up.

In one of 175 comments posted to his column, however, reader Gettingbetter pegs the increase at 27%, which would be in line with the average 25% to 30% CEO Gracia Martore has already promised Wall Street from the overall newspaper division.

Earlier: Martore refuses to use the word “paywall.” Plus: Wisconsin GM says price increases have nothing to do with launch of paywalls.


  1. Shreveport is NOT raising prices. Subscribers here will get online access with their regular subscription, although there is an "online-only" option. Early letters that went to subscribers quoted the current subscription rates. Not sure how the other four Gannett papers are handling the situation. Maybe Shreveport is a test market based on post-paywall experiences elsewhere.

  2. "A-hole lots more $ for a-hole lot less content!"

  3. The comments have been removed from Lovely's column.

    There's going to be hell to pay for leaving them on in the first place. After all, readers shouldn't be allowed to comment on a PR piece hailing the paper's improved content. That's dangerous.

  4. mr. lovely is simply 'sucking' up for that publisher jobs he dreams about. He is just another gannett puppet !!

  5. Reader’s trust is one of Gannett’s greatest assets, yet it is willingly violating that trust by not being 100% straightforward with readers about its rollout of “paywalls” and rising subscription costs.

    Pretty short-sided and stupid move even for Gannett.

    Former Gannett Publisher

  6. Just be honest about price increase. You will not enrage people when you call things what they are and tell them the truth about your situation. They'll join you in helping figure out best way to put all the pieces into place.


    Our site is profitable. Our publisher raised prices with the rise in taxes. That's why were profitable. Advertisers and subscribers grumbled, and some left .. but we always paid our bills on time.

    Anyone with a better idea, that idea is worth billions. Go for it. Good luck.

  8. I think Randy is basically a decent guy, but he's young and a Gannett lifer. That means The Big G owns his soul and he will do whatever it takes to hang on as long as possible.

    So much for editors and publishers being leaders who defend the staff, integrity of the publication and community. They are powerless puppets on a corporate string. No one wants to be unemployed.

  9. Isnt there a fill in the blank template for this. doesnt our vice president of paywalls handle this?

  10. A vice president for purpose and paywalls. That's perfect.

    And 2:34 is right - Randy is a decent guy, but he has sold his soul to Gannett. He bows to every dictate coming out of corporate - regardless of what it means to readers and staffers.

    Randy's legacy at the Republic will be the paper's decline while he was at its helm. The Republic is a just a shadow of what it used to be and continues to slide into mediocrity.

  11. @1:51 – It’s not that paywalls are a bad idea, it’s that too many in Gannett are playing fast and loose with readers in regard to what they are actually doing with rates and what they’re calling it.

    BTW, many of us had the idea of limiting unique content online to only those who subscribed years ago, the goal of which was to retain so many who were going to the web for free. That idea scared too many in Gannett and now it finds itself doing it to save it’s ass, more proof that if Gannett leads anything, its from well behind more nimble, forward thinking competitors.

  12. I don't believe any onevcan ever put the words honest and Gannett in the same sentence.


    Either you let people comment on your site -- or they will form another site to comment. Tough call, in today's relentless culture of complaint.

    As for how the "message" is going out -- many PBS stations are now fund-raising quarterly. Also a very difficult time for them -- and BTW, they get 10% of their $$$ from taxpayers.

    How many ways can you say, "we need the cash?" Really.

    Look at NYT (pay-wall) v WaPo (advertising-only). Neither is doing very well. These are hard times.

    Hey, do what you have to do. The government's broke -- the calvary is not coming over the hill to help.

  14. 10:08 I just checked Lovely's column and all the comments are still there.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    Those carpet-baggers NEVER get it. The locals know when they are being BS'd.

    In any other business, the Gannettoids would be laughed out the door. But despite all the job and money losses, having daily distribution is still a big stick.

    Just as the only poll that matters is Election Day -- the only thing that matters are RESULTS. As in, EYEBALLS.

    Gannettoids hiding in their offices and just BS'ing are quickly found out by the locals, as phony and useless. And weak results today -- BOOM, transfer or termination.

    Shareholders, time to demand results. No more BS.

  17. People have become more distrustful of news organizations because editors just flat out lie now or conveniently forget to include a salient fact - prices are going up. Just be honest with people. If you believe the content is worth paying for, just say it. They don't do it in Phoenix because the Republic has really gone downhill and the public know it.

  18. How much free labor is the Cronkite School at ASU giving to enable the Republic as paid professionals in all departments keep getting laid off? The best lesson it teaches college students is to find another major, fast.

  19. @9:46 . . . it's not just Cronkite News Service. Check out Monday's Republic. Front page story about voter fraud being mostly a myth (tell that to Norm Coleman and Dino Rossi and Coke Stevenson) done by a group called News21. Read about them at

    Young, bright-eyed students as a future of journalism. Another way to put it: PIRGs doing their own PR and writing their version of history. There IS no such thing as objectivity in journalism. There never WAS.


    (OK, Gracia, start taking notes ..)

    Newspapers were underpriced for a long time, masked by advertising support. No more.

    BE BLUNT -- "this is what we do, and we think it is worth this much. We believe this is a fair price." Keep it real.

    And it would help to have a few EXPERIENCED locals on board. To avoid stupid, little mistakes. Some sites now use their locals in promos - "we actually know there are only two hospitals in town!"

    (It is getting worse. Yesterday, WSJ in a graphic noted "automotive breaks." Ridiculous.)

    Start administering exams on local knowledge. If a publisher/editor can't identify the top 25 personages in town -- send her/him packing.

  21. We cancelled our subscription to The Desert Sun in Palm Springs this morning.

    We received the long, overblown letter from the publisher back in June touting the exciting new changes and expanded coverage. Just one problem: the letter had no effective date on it.

    When we called to clarify, we were told that wouldn't take effect until August 2013.

    Oops! Seems it goes into effect NOW, and our monthly rate for Sat/Sun goes from $4 + change to more than $15 per month — a nearly 400% increase.

    The customer service rep this morning kept dropping the price and finally got down to $8/month.

    We still cancelled. Just not worth it, when we get the much better LA Times 4x/week for a cheaper rate.

    I want to read my print paper over breakfast and get on with my day. I have no desire to read the paper on my Smart phone and rarely look at the website anyway. The local TV stations do a better job of covering the news and updating the web sites.

  22. What kind of customers are left to appeal to advertisers? $99 a month car buyers? Internet ignorant coupon clippers? Bail bonds and DUI attorneys? Who are the idiots that actually read this stuff?

    1:51 Profit baby! You are so correct; I bet we could make even more just focusing on our core, first appearance mug shots and obits. Hell, we could probably get rid of everyone locally and support that market regionally.

    Future profits are far more important than engineered profits today. We are making profits, but our brand name and asset value locally has lost an incredible amount of value. We have gone from being the Robin Hoods to being the Hoodrats. Put that in your income statement and sell it to someone. Oh wait, we do that everyday.

  23. Phoenix radio stations are having a field day promoting free online content. Lovely's comments and those by Zidich the week before are hollow at best. Investigative reporting matters most to readers? Who's doing the investigating? The newspaper has promoted nearly anybody breathing with the ability to aim a camera as a citizen reporter. Higher prices to have greater access to poor content? And I also suspect the combination will mean huge circ numbers which advertisers will love. I remember meeting with an ad agency trying to explain why there's only 5 newspapers delivered to their weekend Starbucks vs. the several bundles a short time ago.

  24. Does anyone else see the imprint of a corporate template for the so called reader selected "passion topics" here. Hmmmmm, investigative reporting and consumer issues - The (fill-in name of newspaper here) on your side. Tell me, was the third passion topic "Food"? Our site had its content evolution plan rejected by corporate until they came up with those three. Out the door went court coverage, even though the "most popular" news on the website continues to be the crime and punishment journalism 101 articles.
    And what passes for investigative reporting? Rarely are those ideas generated by front line boots on the ground reporters. Instead the story ideas and assignments come from the dwellers of glass offices. They're as connected to the reader as I am to a praying mantis. Yes, a precious few reporter generated stories make it through, and they get lousy play and little recognition.
    Wait till you get your "champions" for these passion topics. (could there a title any worse for morale than "champions")
    Happy days are here again!


    New Gannettoids google new town assignment, try to memorize all key roads. Failure rate: 80%. You get what Head Gannettoid sends.

    " .. Put that in your income statement and sell it to someone .."

    Billy Bob don't pay for GANNETTOIDS. He pays for that which ENGAGES him.

    The worker's profit are her/his wages.

    Wages were 80% of a newspaper's cost.

    Corporate tax rate is 35%.

  26. I think Lovely and Gannett are underestimating the number of people who want a print edition and little to no online access. Telling them they now must pay for something they don't want (and the price increase is excessive, by the way) is shoveling the print newspaper into the grave that much faster. This short-sighted money grab will kill them. Readers who've learned to live with getting the paper just three or four days with "weekend specials" can certainly learn to live with nothing -- and rely on tv, radio and other sources. For free.

  27. And they want people to pay for this??? Today's Arizona Republic carries this lead A1 story with two bylines. The primary sources? The Hill, “a Washington, D.C., newspaper that covers Capitol Hill” and other “media reports.”

    Read more:

  28. I just checked Lovely's column and all the comments are still there.



Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.