The approaching extinction of the AFR newspaper

To me it seems to be that it is getting increasingly difficult to find the Australia Financial Review (AFR) newspaper these days at the newsagents.

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Most weekdays while I am away at site working I pick up an AFR newspaper in the evening when I go back into town. It amuses the attendant at the newsagent where I go that I refer to the AFR as ‘the most depressing paper on the planet’. I usually walk in and ask if they have any of those ‘seriously depressing newspapers’ left and these days she knows exactly what I am referring to.

Having the AFR gives me something to flick through while I suck down those first couple of nice cold beers when I get to the motel. Nothing like a depressing read to improve a beautiful drink of good beer.

I find the AFR even goes very well with a glass of red wine.

But lately, over the last three or four months, I miss out on my depressing read at least one day in the four days I am away at site. There are none left at the local newsagent. There is a second newsagent in the country town where I stay but most times there is no point in going down there. They won’t have any left either.

Then, on top of this, back in the big city on the weekend I am having more and more trouble getting the Weekend Edition of the AFR and the Weekend Edition of the AFR is my favourite weekend newspaper. It is usually cock-a-block full of depressing reading about the economy.

This weekend I went to my local newsagent to put on Saturday lotto and pick up the weekend AFR. You guessed it. No AFRs left. So I drove about three kilometres to the recently refurbished newsagent down on Lesmurdie Road. Same outcome. No AFRs left. The girl tells me they had sold out of AFRs by about 10:00 a.m.

So now I am faced with going to the newsagent in the main village at Kalamunda. Crap! Parking is usually at a premium in the village on a Saturday. I brave it. But I need not have bothered. No AFRs there either.

This is not a cheap newspaper. At $4.30 compared to the weekly Western Australian newspaper it is downright expensive as newspapers go.

So what is happening to the AFR newspaper?

There are only two reasonably logical explanations. Either (a) the publishers of the AFR are purposefully making the newspaper scarce in order to force the readership to purchase their ridiculously expensive on-line subscription (AUD$69.95 per month) or (b) the numbers of people reading the AFR have increased significantly but the newsagents have not increased their door drop-off count.

I think it is (a). I think the publishers are trying to make those people who are fence sitting about taking out an on-line subscription decide to go ahead and do it. But $69.95 per month works out to $840 per year. Okay. This does work out cheaper than buying the newspaper every day. Buying the AFR five days a week and the Weekend Edition would come to something like $1134 per year. So based on that the on line subscription works out as $300 cheaper actually. But $69.95 per month for on-line access to the AFR still seems a little steep to me.

Maybe if they did an annual subscription for $500 I might dive in. Maybe. But even $42 per month seems a tad expensive too.

In the meantime I am just going have to put up with missing out on getting the most depressing paper on the planet for a relaxing read a couple of times a week.

BarryMark