It was decision time in the publication business recently. In other words, I had to figure out whether to renew a subscription to the Wall St. Journal.
I voted no, sort of. More on that in a moment. I think the reasons are rather instructive, though.
Reason one was the cost. I got the first year for nothing as a reward for filling out on-line surveys. It seemed like the best available option, and I had never seen the WSJ regularly. Therefore, I gave it a try, even though I'm not exactly a business magnate.
After a year, I got a renewal offer in the mail. The cost to renew for an entire year was $99. That didn't sound unreasonable; there were some good stories in it, and $2 a week was more than fair.
I was interested to see what the price plan would be once my subscription came close to expiring this time. Their big discount offer came to something like $340 for 18 months. Whoa. Here comes the pitch and it is way, way too high.
But there's another factor involved here, and it's worth exploring. The Journal has really come across as two-sided in a dramatic sense in the past several months.
That is to say, the editorial board and the columnists all think President Obama is the Anti-Christ. (I exaggerate, but not much.) They go out of their way to slam him when they can, sounding all the while like Fox News commentators. (This is not surprising, in light of common ownership.) Daniel Henninger and William McGurn come off as particularly clueless most of the time. Peggy Noonan is the best of the bunch; did she really call Sarah Palin a nincompoop in her column last week?
On the other hand, the economic news has been slowly improving over the last several months. Jobs are being created, not lost, and other economic figures such as profits are creeping up. But it's really, really difficult for some of the editors to give the Administration much credit for any of this, so they seem to go out of the way to avoid it.
I'm not cutting off ties completely, though. I had some expiring frequent flier miles, and could get a year's worth of the Saturday edition of the Journal for nothing. Works for me. Noonan appears on Saturdays, and the book review section on that day is always worth a look.
That seemed like a fair compromise ... although not too many WSJ columnists seem to know that compromise isn't the worst thing in the world.