When I look back at the front page of The Citizen’s September 19, 1990 edition, not a lot has changed.
Platte County R-3 was breaking ground on a new school building and additions to others. The district hopes to be doing that again soon, pending a tax levy question bound for the April ballot.
But that can wait another day for more discussion.
I want to talk about how the more things change, the more they stay the same. That slightly yellowed edition of The Citizen sits in my office right now. I’ve spent some time looking over it the past couple of weeks.
Hard to believe that the cost per issue of this newspaper went up to 50 cents a week earlier in September nearly 25 years ago. That increase came after about another quarter century at a quarter per single copy.
Starting next week, The Platte County Citizen will cost 75 cents per issue when purchased at the area stores who sell our publication or allow us to maintain racks at their location.
Seems like a lot to some, but hear me out.
The newspaper industry has absorbed its portion of an economic downturn coupled with the lack of foresight to prepare for the digital age. The Citizen has continued to put out a high quality product through three owners and staff changes galore during the past quarter century while maintaining its price.
In the same time, inflation has forced up the prices of every single product you purchase every day.
We’re no different. We don’t want to pass the cost down to our customers, but eventually, it becomes reality. Paper costs more; ink costs more; our salaries cost more to keep up with the cost of living.
We’re really only increasing the cost of the paper by about 1 cent per year of this publication’s existence. Unfortunately, this comes in a quarter lump because we wouldn’t want you to dig for the pennies and nickels required to deal with a yearly increase.
Plus, the machines don’t work that way.
Speaking of machines, you’ll see brand new ones at all of the locations where you can purchase The Citizen from a rack — coin operated and honor system. I haven’t seen them, but I bet they’ll look nice and new and professional.
We plan to deliver those this week, so this issue will be the last one you can purchase for 2 quarters, and you better get it before the weekend when the new machines will be delivered.
This is all straight honesty.
I didn’t take this job this past summer to come in and make radical changes. The Platte County market already lags well behind other comparable and even smaller weekly papers in Missouri. The Savannah Reporter, Liberty Tribune, Kearney Courier and Smithville Herald, and heck, even the Clinton County Leader all charge and have charged $1 per issue for a while. Smaller publications in Mound City, Hamilton, Oregon and Bethany charge 75 cents.
We think we’re worth the three quarters and will do our best to upkeep the quality and provide a product worthy of your loose change.
As a reminder, you can have 52 issues of The Citizen delivered to you, quarter free, for $30 a year or sign up for two years at $55. That’s also a slight increase to our subscribers to make sure it’s still cheaper to be a regular customer than going to the racks.
Call us at 858-5154 to become a subscriber. Those who live in Platte County can receive a free Sunday edition of the Kansas City Star at no extra cost. That would cost you $104 to purchase every week at a rack, and you can have it included with a publication that provides you more news and sports from Platte County than you can find anywhere else.
And we welcome any feedback on what we can do better. Just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t hurt my feelings.
(Note: we also accept compliments)
We probably don’t say it enough, but we value each and every one of our readers and look forward to serving you for another 25 years. If the cost goes up to a $1 in 2040, hopefully I won’t have to be the one to break the news.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.