Thomas: Joco Sun to Readers; Pay Up or We’ll Shut Up

To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway, The Sun also sets…

And in the case of the Sun Newspapers, it looks like it’s about to set on a an unspecified number folks living in the wilds of Johnson County, Kansas. Because after 60 years of distributing its weekly newspapers free-of-charge (if you don’t count the panhandling platoons of school kids the Sun used to enlist for door-to–door guilt tripping), some Sun readers are now being asked to pay up or the Sun says it will shut up.

"Dear Sun Reader," begins an August 20th letter from co-publisher Steve Rose, son of Sun founder, Stan Rose. "Due to significant proposed postage increases for newspapers, we regret we must ask you to make a choice. You can continue to receive The Johnson County Sun for $19.95 per year (38 cents per issue) or $24.95 for two years (24 cents per issue)."

Severe consequences await Sun spotters who opt not to ante up.

"Or, I’m sorry to inform you that we must cease delivery of the Sun to your home, effective with our Oct. 6 issue," Rose continues. "The deadline for payment is Sept. 30, 2010…We hope you have enjoyed our award-winning newspaper and will continue to be one of our loyal readers."

A check with the Sun’s circulation department revealed that for the time being, the Wednesday Sun on the KCMO side will continue to be delivered to driveways and other pick up points in south Kansas City. Free of charge, that is. But the JoCo edition is mail only, not driveway drop.

So might the  once-mighty Johnson County Sun be on its last legs?  Can any newspaper – let alone what’s left of the Sun – change business models from free to paid subscription–in the midst of the worst recession in many people’s lifetimes?

Not to worry, Rose says. The letters were sent "selectively" as an "experiment.

So we’ll see.

But frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine even 5 or 10 percent of Sun subscribers coughing up the cash.  And advertisers would leave in droves were the Sun’s circulation (which is unaudited by the way) to plummet after the non-payers were excommunicated.

So while Rose’s blunt doomsday letter was mailed selectively at this point, it’s clearly an example of the tough times facing the newspaper industry.

The real question is, if nobody antes up – short of shutting the paper down – what will Plan B be.

And if everybody comes across with the cash – or great numbers of "Sun readers" – look for a "Dear Sun" letter in a mailbox near you!

–Tracy Thomas

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17 Responses to Thomas: Joco Sun to Readers; Pay Up or We’ll Shut Up

  1. Anonymous says:

    jojo
    it was a greatpaper. Worked for stan and shirley.
    I never know when it comes anymore but it was
    so important during joco’s growth. I hope it
    doesnt fold because it was fun to read whats
    happening in the area.
    also, the jewish chronicle is now down to about
    2600 circulation and the community wonders when
    that will go the same way.
    The roses have been stellar people in our
    community. We hope things work out although
    they don’t own the papers anymore it would be
    bad if all their life work went down the drain.
    jo co has grown…why hasnt the paper reached
    even greater heights as more people moved into
    the area…..and with all the money in this
    county someone needs to pick up the slack…
    anyone got any ideas?

  2. Anonymous says:

    MrOlathe
    Online only.

  3. Anonymous says:

    JoHawk
    I made them quit delivery when it was free.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mark X
    This is a joke, right?

    … no, I know the ‘paper’ is a joke, I mean the part about having to pay for it ….

    Hey, Mike … I have an better idea …how ’bout the following:

    “You can have us stop sending you The Johnson County Sun for $19.95 per year (38 cents per issue) or $24.95 for two years (24 cents per issue). If you don’t pay up we will continue to clog your mail box and litter your driveway.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joe
    RE: Tracy Thomas:

    Is this the same person with the annoying radio commercials?

    I had long since forgot about her — I hope it’s a different person as I found the TT on radio one of the most annoying personalities I have ever heard. Flo from the Progressive commercials is similarly annoying.

  6. Anonymous says:

    smartman
    Yeah jojo it’s her. Kinda like that annoying Dave Ramsey on 710 “pimping” for all his “good friends” in the Kansas City area. Like he knows all these people intimately. I made it a point to never spend money with any of the businesses Tracy shilled for. She’s like a modern day Mr.Haney from Green Acres.

  7. Anonymous says:

    tacitus
    I hope this paper goes the way of the top hat. I’ve never seen a worse excuse for journalism. As an aside, I’d like to point out that Steve Rose has to be one of the biggest douche-bags in the Metro area. Probably lands in the top-10 douche-bags in Kansas City’s history.

    This douche-bag won’t stop talking about how great the schools are in JoCo. He actucally lives inside the SMSD. But SMSD isn’t anywhere near good enough for HIS kids. He sends them to school… where… in Missouri? JoCo is good enough for SOME people, but not him.

    This douch-bag brags all the time about successful business in JoCo, but he lost ownership of his father’s newspaper some 10 years ago.

    I read an article he wrote some time back, talking about what a great investment homes were in JoCo, no matter what the market was doing. Bah. Douche-Bag.

  8. Anonymous says:

    bschloz
    I was once a Sun Paper Boy…I only lasted for one collection cycle though, knocking on those doors trying to get a few bucks out those folks was brutal. Rose family had that baby humming and I think they timed the sale pretty good too.
    Still think there is a gap in the market for a localized paper ala Tom Leathers…its just a lot of Godammn work and sweat to pull it off.

  9. Anonymous says:

    MrOlathe
    A market for a localized newspaper? Why don’t you open a buggy whip factory while you’re at it?

  10. Anonymous says:

    bschloz
    Good one Olathe….You ever try and eat Chicken Wings and surf your Blackberry at the same time?

  11. Anonymous says:

    KellysGuy
    Never heard of it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    John Altevogt
    Ironically, I believe that small town newspapers seem to be doing OK. They’re doing the one thing The Star seems too stupid to do, and that’s provide original reporting on local events and issues that no one else is covering.

    Rose sold the paper at a very good price before the crap really hit the fan and then the new owners (and we’re on about the third set) have suffered trying to meet the debt service.

    Rose is indeed a local booster for Johnson County (and the metro area in general) and also tends to shill for the local establishment a bit too much for my taste, but his concern for quality education certainly appears to be genuine and very consistent.

    He also seems far more open in allowing others to express their opinions than The Star (that freedom however does not tend to extend to his reporters).

  13. Anonymous says:

    Gregory W, Lea
    Don’t know if I can trust someone who seemed to move to a different home in Johnson County yearly for about 10 years…

  14. Anonymous says:

    John Altevogt
    Hmmm…. Fannin shows a consistent pattern of unethical and reckess, self-destructive behavior and we’re told that no one cares, but now it’s a major scandal that Rose moves a lot? I must be missing something here.

  15. Anonymous says:

    MrOlathe
    It’s unethical to move now? WTF?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dexter Morgan
    The Sun can piss off. They’ve been trying to squeeze as much as they can get out of businesses around JoCo for years. This summer the wanted high school and college students to shoot and edit news package video for them for their website – and all they offered in return was a $300 scholarship – total…for everyone to split. Way to pony up there Sun Pub. What a shocker that no schools jumped on such a gracious offer.

    Take care bye bye-

  17. Anonymous says:

    CMac
    I worked at the Sun for a fair number of years back in the 90’s. Steve Rose, as mentioned above, is one of the most massive douchebags on the planet and had everything handed to him on a silver platter by his much more respected old man. I’ll be happy to see the Sun go under and for Rose to rot.

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