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My disturbing first impression of San Diego’s Union-Trib

Why free isn’t good enough

Not answering the door is as difficult for me as not opening an email. There’s a chance it could be something great, right?

Not so.

Not today when I answered the door to find, shit, a salesman.

Now, I’m still suffering from Minnesota Nice and am far too polite to just shut the door. (Note to self: Next time, just shut the door.)

So this guy hands me a copy of today’s Union-Tribune newspaper, without introducing himself and without asking me how I’m doing. Instead, he just hands me the paper and begins filling out an order form.

He mentions the Sunday coupons and that I can subscribe at a ridiculously low price, something like $1 per week.

That was his pitch. This is cheap and therefore you should want it.

Now, in case you didn’t know, I’m actually a newspaper girl. I have a journalism degree, and I worked in the industry. I appreciate good writing. I am among the youngest who still cling to the comfort of cuddling up with a paper and a hot chocolate and getting actual print on their hands.

I’m the type of 30-year-old who actually says to her husband, “You know, we should sign up for the Sunday paper.”

But there I was with this man at my feet, and he could not have paid me to sign up.

“Please. It’s just $1.”

“No. No thank you,” I said. “I’m not interested.”

And then I just felt sad.

Sad, because I sensed he needed the commission. Sad for the newspaper industry. Sad for the Union-Trib’s lack of creativity.

“It doesn’t matter how cheap it is, does it?” I could tell the man was frustrated.

“That’s right.”

And this is my problem with the Union-Tribune: I got the feeling it is purposely sending out poorly trained salespeople in order to get guilt subscriptions.

I wanted to help the man. He was literally on his knees in front of me. “It’s just $1.”

But free isn’t good enough. I don’t want more stuff. I don’t want clutter. I don’t want coupons.

I want good value.

Does the Union-Tribune have good content? I don’t know. I’ve never read it. Is there any value in it? I’ll never know.

As a blogger, I know I have to offer good content. If people buy my products or click my ads, that’s wonderful. But there will be no one on my site if the content is not there.

As a pet sitter, I would never beg someone to hire me.

“Please. I’ll do it for $1. Just please pick me.”


I offer the best service. I care the most. I offer value. My customers hire me because they also believe I’m the best, and if I fail they hire someone else.

So, Union-Tribune, I’m so disappointed you put me in that position today. I wish your worker the best. I wish for him to find employment with a company that cares.

I hope he finds a way.


Monday 16th of December 2013

My husband & I have subscribed to the "local" paper forever, but I'm almost positive that is about to end. The San Diego Union Tribune daily 52-week subscription we paid in Jan 2013 cost. $291.31. The same 2014 subscription is going to cost $368.41, a $77 increase -- I know because our bill arrived today. I know they're losing readers, but they sure plan to sock it to the remaining subscribers.

Adrian Hull

Sunday 22nd of September 2013

But on a brighter looks like your dog is having a blast!

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 22nd of September 2013

Yes, he sure is!

Nancy's Point

Tuesday 17th of September 2013

I've never heard of a person coming door to door to try to get a newspaper subscription. This probably says a lot about the state of things in newspaper land. I completely agree about the content and quality thing. People might sign up for something if it's free, but they won't stick around for very long if there's nothing of value in it for them in the long run.

Interesting post! Thank you!


Tuesday 17th of September 2013

great piece linds! i totally agree!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 17th of September 2013

Thanks! Good to hear! :)


Friday 13th of September 2013

Oh my. That is such a depressing story. Sometimes in situations like that I just want to say "Keep your newspaper/candy bar/coupon book/whatever, but here's five bucks."


Friday 13th of September 2013

By the way, I don't think the UT is a great paper, though the Sunday edition does have all the great ads and coupons, but I really recommend the Reader. I've considered getting a subscription to my new home in Denver for the crossword puzzle alone, but its coverage of SD politics is great, or at least was five years ago.