Reducing the burden of newspapers

I feel guilty every Sunday when I get The Washington Post. The routine is the same. The first thing I do is get rid of the classifieds — six sections of newsprint whose only value to me is the exercise I get taking them to the recycling bin.

I’m sure I’m not alone. If you’re not in the market for a car, house or a job (in of the few job categories served well by newspapers), the classifieds are pure waste. After direct mail, newspaper classifieds have got to be the most environmentally wasteful form of advertising.

The guilt has gotten to the point where I’m canceling my subscription altogether.

How about allowing me to opt for the paper without the classifieds sections? Sure, this will reduce the paid circulation of classifieds by the number of people who opt out, but those people have no real value to advertisers anyway. All of that newsprint is a significant expense for newspapers and the environment.

From a logistics standpoint, this should be fairly easy to do. Much of the Sunday paper is pre-printed and then assembled later. Some newspapers, including the Post, already distribute some sections (such as the Sunday circulars) separately.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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4 Responses to Reducing the burden of newspapers

  1. Along the same line, let’s appeal to the magazine industry to print subscription issues without all the subscription cards inserted and bound.

  2. Nic says:

    Would you opt out of this by paying extra for the paper? Newspaper companies make significant revenues from classified advertising (although it’s nothing compared to huge double-truck color display ads).

    I understand the sentiment of those who think there should be a better way environmentally, but I wonder if people who’d prefer to not have those sections would front the cost of elminiating them.

  3. Given their format, the incidental exposure value of classifieds is limited. In many papers they are in separate sections. Even when they are not, the tiny type requires you to be a motivated consumer of the advertising.

    For someone like me, who immediately separates the section, there is zero value to the advertisers and negative value to the newspaper. (Cost of newsprint, production and distribution.)

    That said, I’d pay an extra 25c to not get the classifieds.

    And if it were possible, I don’t want the TV book or stock listings either. The Lansing State Journal, for example, has changed distribution of the TV book. If you want to get it, you have to call in and ask.

  4. Pingback: Advertisers disintermediating newspapers, too « reDesign

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