A Buck Stops Here: Jobless Get Cheap Subscriptions

By: Mark Fitzgerald Losing your job shouldn't mean dropping your newspaper subscription, The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill., believes ? so it's offering out-of-work readers a three-month subscription for just $1. And if the subscriber is still unemployed three months later, the News-Gazette will extend the $1 deal for up to a full year.

According to Editor/Publisher John Foreman, the family-owned newspaper first considered such an offer after a major plant closing was announced. "We assumed the demographic was such that a lot of those people were our readers," he says. When a second plant closed and the local unemployment rate soared to an all-time high, he adds, it was time to act.

A month into the offer, which the paper publicized with radio spots and house ads, 71 unemployed people had signed up. Of those, 37 were active subscribers whose accounts were extended, says Amy George, the paper's director of market development and special projects. One-dollar subscribers may be asked to show they are eligible for unemployment insurance, but the paper is flexible, says George: "In a couple of cases, we have extended the offer to someone that maybe didn't quite have the documentation, but had a very compelling story."


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