Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, May 07, 2007

Is It Still a Paid Subscription if the Sales-Person Gets a 100% Commission?

by David Pritchett, guest commentator (with a face for radio)

While this provocative question for the blog posting title here may seem like it came directly from, it actually was inspired through an observation by Paul Berenson that he reported yesterday (05May) as host of "Santa Barbara's Only Progressive Talk Radio!" show.

At about 40% into the length of this ever-lively, amusing, and informative 48-minute radio show interview (as part of the third hour of his weekly show), Berenson tells of his discussion with a NewsPress sales representative who was (or still is) giving away freebie issues and selling subscriptions while camped out in front of a local grocery store.

The deal, offered by the dudes camped in front of the stores, is that a 3-month subscription to the NewsPress sells for $20, or at 22 cents per day. That is lower than the 24 cents per day price for a long-term subscription as the "Manager's Special" advertised on yellow cards distributed in the NewsPress racks. Those cards often are seen blowing along the sidewalks, into the gutters, and then down the stormdrain pipes to cause water pollution in Mission Creek and Arroyo Burro, yielding pulpy paper litter on the beaches and in the coastal wetland lagoons.

Back to the subject: The dudes selling the subscriptions told Berenson that they keep the full $20 of the subscription selling price. In other words, they earn a 100% sales commission on the final selling price of the subscription. In even other words, that means the subscription really is given away by the NewsPress.

Do the circulation figures reported by the News-Press, for the audits, count that giveaway of 91 daily issues (3 months) as a freebie, or as a paid subscription?? What about the stacks of newspapers delivered to local schools on weekends??

Here is the link to streaming audio of this radio interview with this report by Berenson. Let it download and then slide the scroll bar to 40% across for the bit about the 100% commission on "paid" subscriptions. If one is really brave and/or bored, then listen to the whole show from the start...

Just prior to the bit about 100% commission on the NewsPress subscription "sales" of $20, this episode of the Paul Berenson Show also includes a caller who suggests that --although Wendy McCaw herself likely would not call in-- McCaw just might enter blog comments if the web site for the show ( included interactive blog commenting. The caller was not sure if "Nelville Flynn" would be the nom de guerre, though.

Blogabarbara is mentioned several times in this 48-minute radio interview, which at the web site most thankfully is free of the commercials and Fox News breaks that interrupt the live broadcast.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was up in the North County today had as I was walking around I would check the local news stands to pick up several of their free local papers.
I noticed the Santa Barbara NewsPress and looked to see what it said though the box window every box contained a paper with the date of April 16 and all were yellowed and aged from the sun light.

5/07/2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If subscribers are so valuable to McCaw that she has dudes hassling shoppers outside of markets, why does she keep driving people away through unfathomable management practices?

5/07/2007 9:42 PM  
Anonymous michel said...

the whining needs to stop, there are so many good reasons to dislike the newspress without stooping to inventing inane new ones.

David of course it counts if someone subscribes and pays, its a subscription and it counts it dosent matter what the newspress pays the person who signs them up. Why would you even ask?

Seriously when there are interesting things going on in town, like the topic below and real outrages by the newspress at least once a week why even bother giving this pettiness space.

5/07/2007 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, David, for the interesting information about the N-P's strategy for boosting circulation numbers.

What I'm most interested in now, though, is the number of employees who have quit over Wendy's smear of an adversary on the N-P's front page.

Those who have resigned since the April 22 story suggesting a former editor had child porn on his computer include:

--Steve Bonser, business reporter
--Leana Orsua, news reporter
--Judy Foreman, Life columnist
--Dan Shiells, retired sports reporter who was working as a stringer
--Lin Rolens, book columnist
--Fred Klein, book columnist
--Susan Miles Gulbransen, book columnist

Who's left in the newsroom? And for how long? And does Wendy even care?

5/07/2007 11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Wendy doesn't care. She knows she has the resources to wait out the legal system. The system will help her win in the end UNLESS the community stands firm, and continues to push hard against her. This lady makes a mockery of Santa Barbara, the paper and the citizens. I know being laid back is cool, but Wendy will NOT go away if you ignore her. She is COUNTING on your APATHY for her victory.

Please support the fired journalists and put all the pressure you can on McCaw legally. A strong, united community is the only way to beat the lady. SUE her for everything you can, PUSH the advertisers to stop advertising, RALLY hard and PUBLISH often. Your voices are CRITICAL in getting her to pay through the nose. Let her know that she is not wanted or needed in SB and that you can make her time there as miserable as she is making her employees.

5/08/2007 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A subscriber counts as a subscriber even if the salesperson gets a 100% commission. Because the customer still voluntarily paid money for it.

It's some interesting insight into how the NP is working to achieve those higher numbers. The salesperson could even buy a one month subscription on behalf of the customer, knowing they will be compensated the full amount.

5/08/2007 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ads are what drives a paper; we need to convince those business people with whom we deal to take their business elsewhere. Talk to those you know who still advertise in the NP and consider taking your business elsewhere; if those ads go elsewhere, the NP will feel the pinch in short order.

5/08/2007 8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is standard practice. Newspapers are a long term subscription. Once it's in your daily routine, they know you will come back for more.

5/08/2007 8:32 AM  
Anonymous allegro805 said...

The system will help her win in the end UNLESS the community stands firm, and continues to push hard against her...

I haven't mentioned this before, and I know the tactic is questionable, but I'm not beyond feeling that public shaming of the woman is in order. I think Craig Smith reported that McCaw was seen supping a couple of weeks ago at Lucky's with her new gossipmonger, and it was mentioned a few months ago that she and Von Nipp were spied at Lazy Acres.

Even if it meant being escorted from the premises, I personally would not be beyond going up to them and loudly saying "Shame on you, Wendy McCaw -- you are truly a misanthropic, evil person." I know for some that crosses the line in terms of breach of privacy, but at this point, I don't care. I think she's heedlessly brought so many people's lives to the brink of ruin that she deserves any humiliation or rudeness that's cast her way. I mean it.

5/08/2007 3:00 PM  
Anonymous boB said...

I don't know if these things are connected.

The old newspapers in North County and my friends resignation from the circulation department.

There have been resignations that are not "visible". Infrastructure people like circulation employees for example.

Those who point out that advertisers must stop advertising are really the realists.

For a business person it is much harder to take that plunge than for a home subscriber to stop her/his subscription.

Publicity is what businesses require. Advertising does reach people and does have effects on business income.

OK! So how do the business people handle this? Who goes first? Who decreases their advertising first? If you ask for your advertising to be cut back, will the paper keep the ads going for free like they apparently do with some personal subscribers? Will your competition increase their ad density?

Perhaps each business owner might consider decreasing their advertising expenditures to the SBNP by 10%. Everyone figure out a way to pay 90% of what they have been paying.

Perhaps a 10% reduction will have a major effect on the paper, but a less substantial effect on the business owner. If it does then maybe another 10% down the line!

On the other hand, I can picture "punishment" for such a tactic. But if the SBNP reduces ad rates to make up for that 10% reduction, than in fact the effect is still being felt by them.

And it will much more directly affect the SBNP bottom line than a 100% commission on a home subscription.

BTW, do advertisers have the right to publish something in their ads signifying that they do not support what is happening at the NP? Kind of like a ball player wearing the number of a deceased teammate. A symbolic icon or number or acronym? The last name of one of the former employees?

8D -----> "zAnT" <----- ;)

I'm boB

5/08/2007 9:11 PM  
Blogger Bill Carson said...

Thanks David for the most intense coverage of things that don't really matter. You're too young to appreciate this, but you only come off as a wanna be 60's activist than anything esle.

At least we agree on one indeed have a "face for radio". Ha! Hoo!

5/08/2007 9:55 PM  
Blogger Cookie Jill said...

Funny...the hispanic youths that have been coming to my friend's house tell him that they get $10 per subscription.

5/09/2007 1:33 PM  
Anonymous mike jordan said...

that same $20 +/- will get you a YEAR of home delivery by the LA Times on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
You'll be foraging for local (anything new about that?) but you'll also get what used to be tomorrow's out-of-town news a day earlier.

5/10/2007 6:48 PM  

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