After years and years on this distribution, Jeff in Virginia unsubscribed last week, complaining there were “too many ads for the premium edition — it like [sic] a never-ending pledge-week on PBS.”
Yep: each week I ask for the readers who really like the stories and want to see more to upgrade. Indeed, PBS (TV’s Public Broadcasting Service), NPR (National Public Radio), and I all know that no matter how good the service is, practically no one will support it unless you ask. I’ve checked that: early on I experimented with not asking, and no one (or nearly no one) upgraded those weeks. Surely Jeff wants to be paid every week at his job, eh?
I’ve noted before that 85 percent of True‘s budget comes from the tiny percentage of readers who pay for an upgrade, which brings them well more than double the stories of the free edition. If I stop asking, people stop upgrading, and True fails — and then no one gets it at all. Just like PBS, NPR, and a lot of other independent outlets you like, such as This is True. We all have to ask, and do it constantly, or else we die. Pretty simple.
Colorado Public Radio indeed had its pledge drive this past week. They noted that they have 400,000 regular listeners. The pledge drive was a “fantastic success” because 9,100 people became members — a little more than 2 percent of their regular listeners. That is pretty awesome: when I put out the “No really: TRUE needs your support RIGHT NOW to keep going” ask last month, I got just over 100 people, or 0.22 percent of my subscriber base, to upgrade. (And it made a big difference!)
But Jeff is still saying my brief weekly “ask” — which no one is forced to read! — is just toooooo much for him to have to see. Sheesh.
Now, every time I discuss this aspect of True, which in the 956(!!!) issues that came before this week’s has been very infrequently, I emphasize that I do know not everyone can afford the price, even though it’s only $24 per year, and I welcome them to stay on the free distribution as long as they’d like. Yet Jeff is still bothered. He’s not bothered enough to simply skip over that “What you missed in the full edition” paragraph, but he wants to whine about the very thing that allowed him to subscribe for year after year after year for free. To which I just roll my eyes.
Yeah, I get tired of writing that paragraph every week, but I know that’s what keeps True alive — simple as that. Can’t stand that paragraph? Can’t stand missing more than half the stories? Then upgrade! Because obviously, that paragraph’s not in the Premium edition! Can’t afford an upgrade? Sorry you’re in that boat, and I hope things improve for you soon because this economy does truly suck, but just skip that paragraph if you can’t stand reading it. You’re not required to read that any more than you’re required to read the Honorary Unsubscribe each week (though if you skip that, you’re really missing out on great stuff!)
But whine about something that literally enables you to get this for free? That’s not smart; that, simply, is obliviocy.
[Note: After nine years at $24, in 2013 we couldn’t take the hit of inflation anymore, and raised the price. As of this update it’s now $32 a year — still well under a buck a week.]
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This page is an example of This is True’s style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. “True” is a newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition, and bring up questions about society — in an entertaining way. If you enjoyed this page, consider scrolling up to the top of the page for a free e-mail subscription.
To really support True, sign up for a paid subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:
Q: Why would I want to pay more than the regular rate?
A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online, and this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.