Progress hikes single-issue price 50%

The new sign obscures the subscription phone number (psst– it's 978-7201).

In a world where daily newspaper readership is sinking like a water-soaked Sunday edition, the single-copy price for the Daily Progress has actually just gone up. Beginning Monday, September 1, says publisher Lawrence McConnell, the newsstand price of the daily jumped from 50 to 75 cents.

Despite the fact that this 50 percent price hike mirrors one made the same day at fellow Media General paper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, McConnell says the decision was his and should help bolster subscription sales, whose price– around $177 per year– remains unchanged.

"It'll certainly be an encouragement," says McConnell, "to take home delivery."

Despite fears that such moves could further alienate readers, who– in recent years– have flocked away from traditional newspaper readership in favor of freebies such as the Internet, McConnell points out that some other newspapers have also raised prices. The Washington Post, for instance, which has a strong Charlottesville presence, raised its single-copy price from 35 to 50 cents on December 31. Over the summer, both newsstand and subscriptions jumped again to 75 cents a paper.

Can the Progress really bolster revenues this way? "It's hard to answer the question on Wednesday when we raised the price on Monday," McConnell answers.

"I guess it's better to hike the price than continue to fire people," says media watchdog Waldo Jaquith, though he called the increase– which moves the Progress about 50 percent higher than America's average daily– "ginormous."

In early July, the Progress announced that, to avoid expensive equipment upgrades, it was laying off its entire printing staff of 25 people and turning the printing task over to Media General's mega-press in Hanover County.

The Sunday single-copy price, $1.50, is unchanged. And Media General spokesperson Ray Kozakewicz notes that the daily price increase is part of chain-wide move, the first increase since the mid-1990s.

"During this time,' says Kozakewicz, "both production and distribution costs have sky-rocketed at our newspapers, yet we have held the line on raising prices. "Some of the proceeds are being shared with the carriers," says Kozakewicz.

"With the tremendous increase in gasoline prices," says Kozakewicz, "Media General felt it was time to raise daily single-copy prices, sharing a good portion of the proceeds with our carriers.”

In recent years, a mostly free service called Craigslist has devoured the classified advertising industry and pinched the profit margins of papers that had depended on it. Last month, Media General, announced that publishing revenues were down yet again, this time nearly 14 percent over the same period a year earlier, mostly due to weaker sales in classified advertising.

In 2006, the Progress had an average daily circulation of 29,415. Today, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, it stands at 28,697 for the six-month period that ended in March.

"We're no different," says McConnell, "from any other daily newspaper in the United States."

–updated 2:59pm, September 11


For all the information you get, this is actually one of the best bargains left in America.

I'm amazed anyone would buy it for more than a penny. Typically one local story, and then the rest is full of 2 day old AP stories and advertising.

I can't believe anyone would buy it, and feel sorry for those that do.

When McConnell says TDP is no different, is that implying that TDP actually does new like the Washington Post?

"For all the information you get?" Andrewww - can you please help the rest of us understand what you mean by that?

"For all the information you get, this is actually one of the best bargains left in America."

$177 a year for what you can more easily get for free? This isn't 1985 anymore.

Last time I touched a Progress it was to place a copy on the floor so I could paper train my puppy. Does anyone really read that paper?

Andreww, you must not like to read cause there ain't much to read in the DP. If the increase went to actually have reporters investigate a story rather than parrot what is told to them it would be a step up.

With the click of the mouse the world is open to me every morning.

Daily newspapers are like the old metal bottle and can openers, still useful in limited situations.

What I think Andrewww was trying to convey is that compared to other outrageously priced items floating around in this country, a newspaper is still one of the items that holds a fair price.

Granted the Daily Progress "ain't no Post or Times", it still pumps out the good ol' Dear Abby's and Beetle Bailey's!!

Maybe it's because I was a journalism student, but I still love holding that newspaper, and I still have respect for every underpaid reporter who covers those local meetings that actually have an effect on my life (unlike Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter or the latest Britney Spears escapade).

I don't know about ya'll, but reading the sports page while I'm making stinkys is still a simple joy i hold dear to my heart.

For a town the size of Charlottesville, the Progress is a joke. It's pretty much a house organ for the University and their news judgment is questionable at best.

latest example: death of LeRoi Moore doesn't even make front page. initial reporting of event gets hidden away on the second page

the News Leader in Staunton or the Free Lance Star in Fredericksburg are much better values