Price Hikes Planned for Wall Street Journal, Barron’s
NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices on Wall Street may be in a funk, but the cost of a copy of the paper named after America’s best-known financial byway is going to jump 50 percent in December.
Dow Jones & Co. Inc. said Thursday it will raise the newsstand price of The Wall Street Journal to 75 cents a copy from 50 cents on Dec. 3, giving it the highest cover price for a leading national daily newspaper.
The move comes at a time when newspaper company profits are slumping, but opinions were mixed on whether the Journal’s move would prompt other papers to risk circulation losses by hiking prices.
At USA Today, one of the Journal’s chief competitors, Larry Lindquist, senior vice president for circulation, said the paper had no plans to raise its cover price of 50 cents in 1991.
Dow Jones is also boosting the annual subscription price for the Journal by 7.8 percent to $139 from $129, effective Jan. 2, 1991.
It said the price hikes reflect higher transportation and other publishing costs and rising newsprint and postage rates.
Earlier this month, the company announced a 17.5 percent drop in its third- quarter earnings, due in part to a decline in ad revenue. It later disclosed a cost-cutting plan that included a freeze on capital spending and total salaries, postponement of a new magazine, and a reduction in the number of special reports in the Journal.
While several special-interest daily newspapers sell for more than 50 cents a copy, the American Newspaper Publishers Association said the Journal will be the first general-interest daily paper with a newstand price of 75 cents.
The newsstand price of the Journal has been 50 cents since April 1984, when it was raised from 40 cents a copy. Subscription rates were last raised two years ago.
The Journal has the largest daily circulation of any U.S. newspaper, averaging nearly 1.86 million copies in the six months ended Sept. 30.
Roger May, a spokesman for Dow Jones, said newsstand sales account for under 300,000 in sales or less than 20 percent of the total.
He said newsstand sales fell slightly after the 1984 price hike but circulation eventually recovered all lost ground.
″We can’t predict what the impact of this increase will be but the outlook for the long term is that we will gain back whatever we lose,″ he said.
Everette Dennis, executive director of the Gannett Center for Media Studies at Columbia University, characterized the Journal as a special case with a relatively affluent audience that could well afford to pay the extra quarter for the daily paper.
But others said the trend toward higher prices at the newsstand was generally established. With a weak advertising market putting a drag on newspaper revenues throughout the country, more increases could be on the way.
Joseph Lorfano of the Newspaper Publishers Association said the average single copy price of newspapers has been rising steadily, reaching 30 cents per copy on average last year, up from 25 cents in 1987.
May said 64 newspapers including the Journal have cover prices of 50 cents a copy, up from only four at that figure in 1985.
Dow Jones also said it was raising the newsstand price of Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly to $2.50 a copy from $2 effective with the Dec. 3 issue. The annual subscription price will rise to $109 from $99 effective with the Jan. 7, 1991 issue.
Barron’s last raised it newsstand price in January 1989 and its yearly rate in January 1990.