News, Opinion

Doughnuts, the universal language

The voice at the other end of the phone line belonged to a computer-savvy, 50-plus-year subscriber to The Daily Item.

“For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you people have been giving it away,” she said,

“Well, you know,” I replied. “We’re planning to go to an online subscription program soon.”

“It’s about time,” she retorted.

Last week we published an article announcing plans for just that.

So here we are, starting this grand experiment which, in every other industry, is a no-brainer: We’re charging our customers — excuse me, members — what we think is a fair price for the goods we sell: news and information about Greater Lynn that you can’t and won’t get anywhere else because nobody else is providing it.

In case you’re having trouble understanding this, I’m going to translate last week’s Daily Item article into that most universal of languages: Doughnuts.

What we said:

Beginning July 22, The Daily Item and Itemlive.com will start a new membership program.

What it means in Doughnuts:

It just cost me $2.53 for a small black coffee and my beloved chocolate glazed. Just like your morning joe and doughnut, The Daily Item costs money to produce: reporters, editors, ad sales people, reader services people, support staff.

Your morning beverage would probably be cheaper if that big doughnut company could get away with subsidizing its core products by charging $12 for fruit drinks spiked with, say, tequila.

For decades, advertising revenue was the frozen margarita that subsidized the cost of your daily newspaper. It may have paid for the journalism, but drastic changes in our industry in recent years no longer support this business model to the extent that it once did.

What we said:

Subscribers will have access to all of our content, where and how they want it — through all platforms, including web, mobile, tablet and/or the print edition.

What it means in Doughnuts:

That $2.53 morning doughnut and coffee is gone in probably 20 minutes. We’re asking you to pay less than a dollar a day for the print edition, plus unlimited access to every feature in The Daily Item, including our archives, through Itemlive.com. You can get this information anytime you want, and it’s fresh online forever. Can you say the same for the Bavarian cream that’s been lying out for a couple of days? I didn’t think so.

What we said:

News and advertisements regularly in The Item’s print edition are important to the people of the Lynn and surrounding communities. Beginning (July 22), all will be available to digital subscribers, including the police log, editorials and guest commentaries, letters to the editor, legal advertisements, In Memoriams, comics, Dear Abby, horoscope, bridge, the daily crossword and The Item’s sports scoreboard.

What it means in Doughnuts:

You wouldn’t think it was fair if you bought a small regular and a honey-dipped and were charged for the guy behind you who bought a dozen cinnamon crullers and one of those big cartons of coffee. It’s just not fair that our print subscribers pay for information that someone else can get for free online.

While we only put a small portion of our information online before, beginning today online subscribers will now have access to everything that’s in the paper, plus video, audio and photos that can’t or won’t ever make it into the paper edition.

What we said:

The Item’s print edition will continue to be available for delivery by 6 a.m., six days a week, to your home or office.

What it means in Doughnuts:

Can’t stand the idea of a croissant or even a muffin with your coffee? Our print edition is not going away anytime soon.

What we said:

As the only local, daily, independently owned, news media company in Lynn, The Item/Itemlive.com aims to make it simple for readers to get local news when, where and how they want it.

What it means in Doughnuts:

You can buy your coffee and doughnut at scores of chain stores throughout the area. Unlike most media today, The Daily Item has been locally owned by the same company for 135 years. We’d like to stay that way.

Our online research shows thousands of you are logging on to Itemlive.com just as you’re probably about to enjoy your morning pastry and beverage. We’re betting you’re willing to pay for the privilege of getting all the content we have to offer.

Here’s the biggest bonus of all: The Daily Item has absolutely no calories. Just plenty of nourishment to keep you thinking and talking and complaining and praising and trying to make this community better.

Try doing that with a doughnut.

Victor DeRubeis is managing editor of The Daily Item. He can be reached at [email protected]

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