Mourning the death of my local news subscription


I tried SO HARD to hang on to my local newspaper subscription. But I just can’t any longer.

I’ve subscribed to the Livingston Daily for almost 21 years. And today, I will be cancelling my subscription. And I am angry. And sad.

I consider news and awareness of the world as critical components of my daily life — and local news was certainly even more vital as a “get to know the community” vehicle when we moved here from Oregon, and when I entered local political life in 2004.

But the local news I wanted to read (and thought I was paying for) was gradually — and then abruptly — reduced. Local editors? Gone. Local reporters? Reduced to, what, three now? Local news seems to max out at two pages, and that’s only if an awful lot of local shit happened. Local sports, one page.

Communities and schools, which used to enjoy daily coverage (whether they wanted it or not!), now cannot get any coverage at all. Even if they send a press release — and their own photos. Coverage outside of Howell and Brighton was always a little sparse. Now it’s almost nothing. The Howell and Brighton coverage is limited to the BFD stuff — murder trials, morally-impaired judges, million-dollar restaurants.
Which means, essentially, I am paying for a USA Today subscription with a different front page.

I’ve complained many times over the years about my Livingston Daily subscription, and Gannett’s ham-handed approach to customer service — in 2018, and in 2016 ( see here and here).

A credit card statement prompted this latest round of investigative effort: $12.99. Household accountant, aka husband, circled the amount on the statement in red, which is secret code for “Honey, you forgot to give me a receipt for something. Again.”

Turns out I did not forget, as this was an auto-charge from Gannett.

“Oh, it must be one of those damn premium editions,” I thought — until I checked my account and saw I had been charged $12.99/month since April 2019. My subscription account summary, however, showed that my subscription was $9.99/month.

The good news — I guess? — is that customer service had not blocked my email address. Yet. The bad news is that sometime in 2019, Gannett decided that we all needed premium editions — EVERY. DAMN. MONTH.

With no communication. And nothing in your account indicating the additional $3 was for the premium editions. Here is how the rep explained it: “Your current monthly rate is $9.99 plus premium editions which are $3 each and Thanksgiving surcharge which is $5.  Unfortunately, you cannot opt out of them.”

Translation: Your current monthly rate is $12.99.

And those premium editions for 2020?

Jan. 12 — Puzzles and Games

Feb. 2 — Black History Month

March — Best of Guide

April 19 — Earth Day

May — Travel Guide

June — 70th Korean War

July 19 — Summer Olympics

Aug. 18 — 19th Amendment

Sept. 6 — WWII

Oct. 25 — Puzzles and Games

Dec. 20 — Photos of Year

Yeah, no local news here. Also, no dates for the March, May and June editions. Also, what in the world is the 70th Korean War? What happened to Wars No. 2-69?

But I digress. I tried to cancel my subscription, but I cannot do that via the site or via email, I must CALL.

So long, local paper. It was nice while it lasted.

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Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary (www.usualandordinary.com). She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012, and as a trustee currently. She is enjoying empty-nesting in Pinckney with her husband, three cats and a few chickens.