Gasoline isn’t all that’s gone up

Freedom is not free, and the price of grabbing the best defense against ignorance and oppression will set you back an extra buck on weekdays.

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Stacks of The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper are seen in this photo, Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 29, 2021.

The newsstand price of the weekday Sun-Times went up $1 on Monday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Good news! The newsstand price of the Chicago Sun-Times went up a dollar on Monday, to $2.

Good news?

Yes, counterintuitively.

First, because you’re reading about it here, in my column. I didn’t discuss addressing the increase with anyone. That’s the kind of place we are. Lean. Not a lot of meetings or hand-holding. Hit the beach, fan out, start digging.

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Second, while price increases are generally unremarked upon, the hope being that they’ll go unnoticed, news shouldn’t be ignored. Just say it. I should have done so Monday — sorry about the delay. Honestly, I had a price-increase column ready to go. (And this is the daily paper we’re talking about; Sunday is unchanged.) But it seemed ... I don’t know ... kinda inside-baseball. We went up a dollar, big whoop. So did cookies. Not the most complicated intellectual concept to challenge you with. I ran something else Monday.

That afternoon, I received this email from a reader:

I buy the Sun-Times every day from the neighborhood 7-11 store, and I don’t begrudge the 100% price increase, but I think it should be at least mentioned in the paper. Did I miss the announcement? Seems to me the last price increase was covered not only in the Sun-Times, but on local TV as well, no? Still a bargain, and glad to support, just seems odd if no one mentioned it.

Not a deluge. Not two. One email from one reader. But you know what? He was right. And one person being right is enough or should be.

We should mention the change because I happened to be in Ohio the day the Cleveland Plain Dealer cut home delivery to three days a week. “A reimagined Plain Dealer,” was the headline. “And a new digitally focused company to serve the changing needs of Northwest Ohio.” Oh please. Those changing needs apparently did not include receiving a newspaper four days out of seven.

But then, more than halving home delivery was only one cut in the death of a thousand cuts. Reductions tend to aggregate. The dreaded death spiral. The Sun-Times is in whatever the opposite of a death spiral is. A life arc, maybe.

We’re charging an extra $1 because the paper is worth an extra $1. We joined with WBEZ on Jan. 31, not only combining their crackerjack investigative and storytelling team with our inky newspaper folk, but unlocking — in some mysterious fashion I can’t quite fathom — philanthropic support that will enhance, expand and uplift both newspaper and radio station. If the MacArthur Foundation can lavish millions of dollars upon the Sun-Times, you should be good for an extra buck.

What do you get for your money? Driven, nearly maniacal investigative reporters. An ace sports department with a Sports Illustrated quality special section wrapped around the paper every Saturday. People who know their way around Chicago. Depth of experience.

Between Lynn Sweet, Fran Spielman and myself, we have a combined century-plus in the newspaper biz. Richard Roeper, who honed his craft on TV sitting next to Roger Ebert, reviewing movies. Not to overlook all these new young stars in training. Plus the photo staff — readers were so irked when we let our photo staff go years back in a daft false economy, they might not realize we’ve been rebuilding it for years. They cover the city like a damp shirt.

You get the point. This is the premier paper in Chicago now that a vulture New York hedge fund bought the Tribune and is pawning its pencils and selling off its lifeblood for the zinc content. A reminder: Nothing is guaranteed. If next year we announce we’re blasting the newspaper directly into your cerebral cortex by the new bubble diffusion technology, well, times change.

With a vengeance. This is a moment of great peril for the United States and the world. Nationalism is on the rise, with all the violence, oppression, deceit and wrongdoing that go with it. A free press is perhaps the most powerful weapon there is to stop it — that’s why the first thing tyrants do is throttle the media. The Sun-Times is proudly unthrottled, undiminished, and your extra buck will help keep us that way.

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