Newspaper Subscriptions: Are They Still Worth the Cost?

Should you bother with newspaper subscriptions these days? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Like so many things that we examine in these hallowed pages, newspaper subscriptions aren’t terribly expensive. With very few exceptions, you may spend $90-125 per year to enjoy home delivery via paperboy, and generally less than $200 for mail delivery.

This is generally true even of small town newspapers. In fact, big city papers can cost less, given economies of scale. Of course, if you’re receiving the New York Times in Cleveland or L.A., you can expect to pay more. But the price probably won’t be too bad.

Be That As It May…

The real question here is, why bother to subscribe to a paper-based newsletter at all? If you have a TV and you’re on the Internet, do you really need physical newspapers…or are they just another unnecessary expense? How many vacation hours could you buy instead with that cash?

Now, it really pains me to bring this up, because I respect the industry and I love the printed word. But on the other hand, technology marches on. Buggy whip manufacturers probably did excellent work…but those newfangled automobiles, which were more convenient than buggies, just didn’t require whips.

Other Options

Even if you don’t care to watch TV news (and who could blame you?), most newspapers have online editions, which you can mostly peruse for free, right down to the classifieds. Obviously you’re on the ‘Net already, so why not pop over to their website to check the news?

You might not be able to crinkle the pages or hide behind them at the breakfast table when you read your news electronically, but even so, portability’s not the issue it used to be with electronic interfaces. Tiny laptops, Web-capable smartphones, and e-book readers like the Kindle abound.

Most of these interfaces even let you do your crosswords and Sudoku puzzles right there on line, if that’s an issue.

Coupons and Local News

Many newspaper advocates (especially their subscription departments) tout the fact that newspapers are ideal for receiving coupons and local news.

Coupons… meh. Unless you’re an extreme couponer, does it matter? How many do you really use? Enough to offset the cost of the subscription? You can get coupons elsewhere easily enough, including online. And you’ll get a bunch in the mail anyway.

The local news argument makes more sense, as long as you don’t live in a major metropolitan area. But even smaller papers are mostly online these days.

The Last Word

So, is it worth subscribing to printed newspapers these days…or not? As much as I love the printed word, I have to come down on the side of “not.” You can easily replace newspaper subscriptions with free options, and that’s just the way it is.