Times 'New Media' Editor Suggests Print Subscribers Are Suckers

So much for those sharp, sophisticated Times readers. Editor Gerald Marzorati said at a new media conference that Times subscribers have no clue how much they're spending on the print edition: "We have north of 800,000 subscribers paying north of $700 a year for home delivery. Of course, they don't seem to know that."

Forbes reporter Jeff Bercovici found out what one Times editor thinks of the acuity of the subscribers (suckers?) who are keeping the print edition of the New York Times afloat:

During a panel discussion at the Digital Hollywood New York conference, Gerald Marzorati, the Times's assistant managing editor for new media and strategic initiatives, explained why the paper's print business is still robust. "We have north of 800,000 subscribers paying north of $700 a year for home delivery," Marzorati said. "Of course, they don't seem to know that."

As evidence that Times subscribers don't realize how much a subscription costs, he pointed to what happened when the paper raised its home-delivery price by 5 percent during the recession: Only 0.01 percent of subscribers canceled. "I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they're literally not understanding what they're paying," he said. "That's the beauty of the credit card."

Bercovici pointed out:

Stealthily hiking rates on the assumption that customers are too dim to catch on and/or too lazy to do anything about it is the kind of thing that gives banks, credit card companies and cell phone providers such a bad reputation. When I pointed this out after the panel to Marzorati, he was quick to dial back his condescension. All he meant to say, he explained, is that customer retention is always better in an opt-out situation.

Indeed, that's a pretty cavalier position for a Times editor to take, given the ink Times reporters like Gretchen Morgenson and Stephen Labaton have spilled relaying the lack of disclosure and "abusive practices" of credit card companies.

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