Tue, Apr 20th 2010 4:39am
Mark writes in with a story about how some newspapers are apparently jacking up the prices they charge for death notices (via The Consumerist). The original author balked at paying the SF Chronicle $450 for a 182-word death notice, calling it an exploitation of people who, when dealing with a death, will simply swallow it and pay up. That might be a little extreme, but clearly death notices are an area where papers can try to make up revenues they've lost in their classifieds and other areas. The key word here is "try" -- by jacking up the cost of death notices, the plan seems to be to replace lots of people paying newspapers a little bit of money with a few people paying them a lot. Which makes perfect sense, right? The problem is that papers are assuming that death notices are something people will keep paying for blindly, when, like so many other parts of their business, they appear to be living on borrowed time. Just like classifieds shifted to the internet, so too are things like death notices, with social networks like Facebook becoming a more popular way for members of younger generations to learn about deaths in their social circles. Charging high fees for death notices seems like an easy way for newspapers to hasten their irrelevance and demise, not a way to grow their revenues.
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