Got a notice last month saying that the cost of my Billings Gazette subscription was rising to $33.60 a month. No surprise there. Rates go up.
But I was confused, because I had been reading in the masthead this sentence: “Home delivery subscribers of Premium Day papers will see a slight reduction in their subscription length to offset all premium day charges.”
Question 1: Why do I read the masthead? It started long ago when I became the editor of a central Texas daily. Not long after I started, somebody in the composing room inadvertently inserted into the paper an old masthead that omitted my name.
Minutes after I got to the office, one of my old bosses called, wondering if I had been fired or quit. I’m assured him that I had not (that would come later) and wondered how he had happened to read the masthead.
“It’s the first thing I read every morning,” he said. Sound advice from a sage mentor.
Question 2: What is a Premium Day paper? Good question. For one, the Thanksgiving Day paper, which sells for $4. Fine. The celebrated biggest paper of the year is the most overrated edition ever—short on news but chock full of ads that I never look at because I refuse to shop anytime near Black Friday.
“Additional premium day editions which include our ‘Better’ section will be delivered on July 13 and in August.” I don’t know what the Better section is, and I have no idea why it costs $4, but I guess I will find out today.
All of this brought to mind another question: If I pay by the month, how does the Gazette plan to reduce my subscription length? Turn every month into February? Create an 11-month year?
So I called the number in the paper and was turned over to a pleasant and thoughtful woman who assured me that I could ignore what the masthead said. Monthly charges are assessed only once a month, she told me.
She also signed me up for the free online access that is supposed to come with every subscription. I had been unable to sign up myself because the computer I discussed this with was unable, despite considerable swearing, to locate the account I have had for 24 years.
So everything’s cool, I guess, except now my email is overflowing every day with messages from the Gazette: breaking stories, daily obituaries, top headlines, local weather. If I wanted to read the Gazette by email, I wouldn’t be paying $33.60 every month, or some portion thereof, to have it delivered to my front porch.
Guess I will have to call them back, some Feb. 30.