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40 percent rate hike in store for some D&C customers, letter says

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Portion of letter sent from the Democrat and Chronicle informing some subscribers the monthly price of the newspaper will increase to $66.30 plus tax.

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A hefty rate hike of 40 percent is coming for some Democrat and Chronicle subscribers.

It's spelled out in a letter that's raising eyebrows and questions about the future of a printed newspaper and home delivery service. "The print edition of almost any medium is in trouble," said media watcher and analyst Tom Proietti.

13WHAM News met with Proietti shortly before lunch time at Glen Edith Coffee Roasters on Elton Street. That's where we also found 24-year-old Jamie Ruddy who works at the Rochester City School District.

13WHAM's Jane Flasch asked her about her history with newspapers.

"I don't have one," she replied. "I never had a paper growing up. Everything was online."

It was the same for her parents. "My mom will do the D&C online," said Ruddy who can't even remember seeing a newspaper clipping in a current events class at school.

In fact, no one in the popular coffee shop sat with a newspaper - though plenty were scrolling through digital news feeds, including the Democrat and Chronicle site.

Tony Mangione, a businessman and consultant, said he no longer gets home delivery or even subscribes to the paper.

"The information that we get in the newspaper is information we can get free anywhere," Mangione said. "You don't have to go out and seek news; it gets pushed to you."

According to the letter, starting on May 1st, the cost of home delivery every morning - 7 days a week - will jump to $66.30 a month for some delivery customers.

The man who received it declined an interview but says he's currently paying $41. D&C President Dan Norselli says it is not an across the board hike.

Norselli says the company uses "variable pricing" and would not say how many are impacted.

"While we make every effort to keep costs down, the value of our print subscriptions has increased," Norselli said in a released statement. He would not say whether a rate increase is coming for other subscribers on other plans but added, "we will continue to make investments in our trusted journalism products."

As the number of people paying for home delivery is dwindling, fewer may be shouldering the increasing costs of a printed paper. Proietti says the steep hike may be an attempt to force reluctant customers to the digital platform.

"This has been a really successful market in keeping brand-loyal subscribers receiving a printed paper every day," Proietti said. "The cracks have started to form in that. So i think they realize we're going to have to change our strategy."

For Jamie Ruddy, she is the second generation of her family to get news without turning to a printed newspaper - and the thought of papers going away is not far in the future.

"I think it would be sad historically,' she said. "But I don't read them, so that's kind of ironic."

The complete statement from Dan Norselli is below:

"We are committed to providing readers with the credible, in-depth content experiences they love and expect when and where they want it – whether mobile, desktop, print, in person, etc. Part of our product mix includes producing and delivering an outstanding seven-day printed newspaper which is a big part of many of our customers’ day. Our readers appreciate the value our newspapers bring to their lives, families and their communities every day.
"While we make every effort to keep costs down, the value of our print subscriptions has increased. We deeply appreciate all of our subscribers, including our print subscribers, and we will continue to make investments in our trusted journalism and products, expand our exclusive Insider membership benefits and grow access to our innovative digital products, experiences and services.
"Like many other industries, we have variable pricing structures. However, we are not raising our monthly subscription rates from $40 to $65 across the board as erroneously reported by others.
"Our readers are extremely loyal and engaged – this is something we, of course, do not take for granted. We appreciate that loyalty and deep engagement with our products and will continue to work hard every day to renew that support."
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