Death notice gouges: $450 for 182 words in the San Francisco Chronicle?

image Alan "Newsosaur" Mutter balked at paying the $450 that the San Francisco Chronicle wanted to charge for a "one-day run of a crappy-looking, 182-word death notice." So what does the Washington Post, here in the D.C. area, bill for such notices? "$9.21 per line, with a minimum charge of $64.47 (which includes up to seven lines)." That’s a bargain compared to S.F., but could be lower.

The smartest strategy, though, as Mutter writes, could be to "offer people a free place on their websites to self-chronicle the comings and goings of their families. It wouldn’t take much space in the print product, either, to run a reference to the names of the people whose life milestones were recorded on their websites in the past 24 hours. And I’ll bet any number of advertisers would be happy to sponsor these high-traffic print and online listings.” Exactly. And whatever you do, Posties, keep those links stable and accessible for free if you want to enjoy the hyperlocal possibilities to the max. Without sufficient sensitivity to local readers’ needs and wants, the Post itself could someday end up in the newspaper graveyard.

Related: Chronicle death notices and some positive news about the Post—those four Pulitizers and some optimism on Wall Street about the parent company (but no spin-off of Kaplan, please). Kudos to the Post, too, for recently  improving the ease of use of the Web-based mobile edition. Size-adjustable fonts there could help still more.

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David Rothman

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