I called the Duluth News Tribune a couple of weeks ago to ask if I could give them some money. They said no.
Since then I’ve sent a couple of emails and made more phone calls. The poor folks in the circulation department think I’m a crank. I’m not. I just want to pay for the local news I consume.
I told them I don’t want a paper edition of the News Tribune any more. I told them I’m no longer willing to stuff pounds and pounds of newsprint and glossy ads into paper bags each week.
I don’t want you to bring the paper to my door, I told them, because I read the paper online now. I want to pay you for that, I said.
“The online paper is a free service,” said the first customer service rep I talked with.
I told her I understood that, but I wanted to pay anyway.
She said I couldn’t do that. Maybe, she said, I could donate my paper to Newspapers in Education.
That won’t work, I told her. I don’t want the Duluth News Tribune to print a paper for me and give it to someone else. I don’t want them to print a paper for me at all. I read the News Tribune online and I just want to pay for that, I said.
Nope, she said.
So I canceled my subscription, but I wrote them a check for $205.40. That’s what a 52-week subscription costs.
Then I wrote a letter to the editor.
I explained that I hardly touch the paper edition of the DNT that gets plunked on my front steps every morning, but I read the news online and I want the Duluth News Tribune to continue reporting. I want Brandon Stahl to tell me what’s going on at City Hall. I want Christa Lawler to tell me about a must-see concert that’s coming up this weekend.
I wrote that in our current crazy system the News Tribune and most newspapers give their news away on the Web, but I know the news isn’t free.
I asked them to accept my check and keep up the reporting. I told them the work they do is essential to a healthy society and I want them to stay at it.
The editor of the opinion page wrote back right away. He thanked me. He said it was a really nice letter, but they publish “neither consumer complaint or consumer praise,” so they’re not going to print it.
I hope they cash the check.