Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Unwanted Free Newspapers

For a couple of months now, an issue of The Durham News, a locally-oriented paper (as opposed to the News and Observer, which covers the entire Triangle), has appeared at the foot of our driveway twice a week. Here's what we do with them:

Yeah, we don't really have time to read these things. So, thanks, but no thanks. In fact, these things are actually kind of a nuisance, and my attempts to get the Durham News to stop sending me these have so far proven unsuccessful. (I haven't found a phone number on their web site, they haven't yet responded to anything I've sent via the online "Contact Us" form.)

But nobody wants to hear me complain about that, right? So let's look at this from a different angle: why are they sending these papers out, unsolicited, for free?

Well...the Durham News is, in fact, owned by the same folks that own the News and Observer. Perhaps this is a form of advertising. "See, aren't newspapers great? There's more where this came from. Subscribe to the N&O today!" And by giving us no choice in the matter, maybe they think that after a few months, people like me will submit to their will and actually start reading the things. Perhaps it's no coincidence that the N&O group started this initiative at about the same time they instituted a paywall on their website.

Speaking of which, I've been choosy about the stories that I read on the News and Observer's web site post-paywall, and thus I have yet to hit the free limit of 15 stories in a 30-day period. I'm not saying I'll never pay for full online access - which costs a reasonable $70/year, by the way - but so far, I haven't. And honestly, getting these unwanted Durham News papers twice a week makes me less likely to want to pay these guys. I refuse to submit!

Surely, these people aren't the only ones who occasionally drop unsolicited advertisements on our lawn or in our mailbox. But junk mail is one thing. What happens when we go away for a week or two, and these things start piling up on our driveway? Then, unless you have someone occasionally dropping by your house while you're gone (which I suppose we would have anyway with our cat and all), your home becomes a target for burglars. With a normal newspaper, you call them up and ask them to stop delivery, and then they do just that (usually). But like I said, my attempts to stop delivery of these papers has so far been unsuccessful.

So, yes, it is a bit ironic that while I have chosen not to pay the News and Observer for full online access (so far), I am also complaining about the News and Observer giving me something for free. But, that's where we are.


Spartangoogle said...

The Times-Union does this too occasionally. Often on Sunday, and they put the free paper in pink plastic so the homeowner sees it. When we ride our bikes, we see them still laying on the driveways!

Anonymous said...

It causes an absolute mess throughout the neighborhood and clogs up the sewer grates. I have a hard time understanding why it is not illegal; it is driving me nuts.