Confirmed: USAT raising cover price 33%, to $1

The increase, effective Dec. 8, “could affect the nation’s highest-circulation newspaper more than price increases affect the other two national newspapers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, because USA Today is more dependent on single-copy sales,” according to a new Associated Press story. “The cost of the Times went up 25 cents in August, while the Journal‘s price rose 50 cents in July.” USAT cites the rising cost of newsprint.

The AP story confirms my speculation two days ago that Gannett’s flagship paper would make the move. (Thanks for the plug, AP!)

I now hear USAT‘s price hike plan could involve removing a “significant” number of news racks from sidewalks and other venues. (Those are the TV-shaped vending machines seen everywhere.) Why? Management anticipates single-copy sales will drop such that fewer racks will be needed.

Can anyone confirm that — and add details? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


22 Responses to “Confirmed: USAT raising cover price 33%, to $1”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Probably just another move to expedite the death of the newspaper. They’ve certainly done a variety of things to degrade the quality and quantity of journalism in the last year or so. They’ve actually made it close to impossible to function in some departments. Now it’s time to charge the public more for what has become a very mediocre product put out by a shrinking staff.

  2. Jim Hopkins Says:

    I’d like to know the percentage drop in single-copy sales when USAT went to 75 cents from 50 cents some years ago. (And what month and year did that increase take place?)

    Also, would you like to speculate on how much USAT’s single-copy sales will drop this time?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Price went to 75 cents on Sept. 7, 2004. Still looking for circ loss figures from that raise. As a comparison, when the price went to 35 cents from a quarter in ’84, there was an 80k circ drop, but that 80k reportedly was recouped within 8 weeks. The 35 cents to 50 cents rise resulted in even less circ drop. (

  4. Anonymous Says:

    This from Gannett’s 2004 Annual Report (Yes, I know: Hardly the most impartial source of info).

    At USA TODAY, circulation reached an all-time high of 2,311,954 in September before the price increase. While the increase impacted some single copy sales, efforts were made to increase sales in other ways such as home delivery and Blue Chip (hotel sales). The result was a net gain in average daily paid circulation by year’s end.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve heard 30% drop is expected.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Why do I have to go to this blog to find out what’s going on with the company I have been working for, for over 15 years? Why are they not telling us of these major changes? Why is HR sending us more ridiculous emails asking us if we remember our benefits password with a link that doesn’t even work. Looking at our 401(k)accounts is not going to improve morale.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    This has to be the dumbest idea since Herbert Hoover ignored Wall Street’s collapse. Ask yourself how many people are going to be traveling to hotels where USAT shoved under their doors and put on their bills without asking? Part of the plan is to cutback on street sales by reducing the number of street boxes, so commuters used to finding their paper on a particular corner won’t find it there anymore. Then there is the normal drop-off with any price increase. Finally, the last increase in 2004 came as the economy was climbing out of a recession (2001), and not entering what looks like it will be the mother of all recessions….I am just flabergasted by the stupidity shown here. I cannot think of a single plus of increasing USAT’s price because it is certain not to bring in additional revenue.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    8:26 doesn’t understand. Corporate doesn’t care about old-fashioned dead-tree circulation, which is why they are withdrawing the street boxes that sell USAT. In the wake of this economic crisis the brains that run this company are making a hail Mary pass, and shifting everything to the Internet.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Neither one of you knows much about circulation. Street boxes are the most expensive way to sell the fewest copies. Even 25 years ago, they were partly Neuharth’s loss-leader way to get USAT noticed. It’s much cheaper to sell thru McDonald’s, colleges, hotels, resorts, conference centers, cruise lines, etc.

    Boosting the price will probably be net positive bucks within a year, or Gannett would not have approved it.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    5:26 it is nowhere near that. why dont you all get the ABC statements and do some homework.
    its all there.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Jim, does this mention by AP mean you’ve gone “mainstream”? Congrats!

  12. Jim Hopkins Says:

    Thanks! Truth be told, AP has credited me before. And I was sourced on I believe CNN last month, a reader said.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Sounds like you are in the know. Please tell us what the real numbers are.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I bet Tara is having a meltdown over this because she is supposed to be the keeper of GCI information.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Street boxes may be expensive and difficult, but they do work at bringing in circulation. And it is circulation that advertisers look at when they decide whether or not to buy ads. I know there is a trend in corporate offices to cut off expensive-to-service circulation, but the downside is that it starts the death spiral and is nothing but brainless cost-cutting. All circulation is costly to maintain and service. It is part of the business.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    Well, getting rid of racks will mean fewer mechanisms that don’t work. The replacements when they went to 75 cents either didn’t work at all, opened still at 50 cents, spit out a quarter when the door opened, or a quarter dropped into no where so the carrier lost it when he/she opened the box. Lots of carriers stopped using them because of that alone. Add to that, USAT went to pushing papers into stores , restaurants, etc. and deleting the rack in front of it, losing sales because of the tax added and costing the carrier money at the same time. Guess they got tired of being on top of the heap.

  17. Anonymous Says:

    Just have to know something—are the papers at hotels free to customers?

  18. Anonymous Says:

    What a bunch of idiot speculators.

    First, there is no way a 30% decline in sales is predicted. Second, no one really knows how racks will do, although it is safe to say racks will have the largest portion of any loss. Third, sales have been moving inside for years. Look around – you can’t find a Wall Street Journal or a New York Times in a rack because they are all sold inside.

    If you think this is a move to get rid of racks you’ve been drinking a different kind of Koolaide. Probably the same kind that says Gannett wants to kill the flagship. How insane. Oh, the sky is falling!!

    All the brainless people think it is all about circulation numbers when it is really about bottom line profits. Advertisers want quality circulation, not this drivel being fed to them through “third party” sales at the local newspapers. That’s another word for bulk and is nothing like the bulk sales hotels purchase and then give to their guests who, I might add, expect USAT at their hotel room doors every day or the hotels wouldn’t pay to keep them happy.

    USAT is finally catching up with the other national newspapers in pricing. I thought it would happen by next fall but apparently newsprint prices make doing it now a better bottom line proposition.

    Go find something else to whine about. And no, I’m not Craig or Tara or any of those other smucks. I’m a USAT employee who isn’t concerned.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    5:31 you are know what is happening. thanks. everyone else only speculates.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    5:31 God Bless You. to be blissfully “Not Concerned” in this Economy within this company (Down 71% in value in over 1 YEAR!!) is remarkable. Koolaide….you must be taking horse-pill sized Xanax.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    One dollar is long overdue. Ant drop in circulation will likely be covered by the extra quarter. At least that’s what happened in the past.

    The problem with the honor boxes is the death of change. Few people have 75 cents in change and even fewer will have four quarters.

    The boxes have no electricity so dollar bill munchers aren’t an option.

    A dollar seems right, and people will seek the paper out anyway.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    God Bless You. to be blissfully “Not Concerned” in this Economy within this company (Down 71% in value in over 1 YEAR!!) is remarkable. Koolaide….you must be taking horse-pill sized Xanax.

    10/12/2008 10:44 AM

    You must not have read my post. I’m not “blossfully unconcerned” as you say. The topic of the original post was USAT going to $1.00. That doesn’t concern me. The economy does concern me in as much as I have any ability to influence the economy or Gannett’s decline in value.

    Ultimately I work for USAT and not Gannett. While the value decline sucks I still work and get paid well. And if one day I no longer work here I’ll find something else. I’m not taking Xanax; I am taking personal responsibility. I chose to continue rather than jumping ship in a bad economy what it’s not neccessary.

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