It’s Monday. Time to come clean with something I haven’t been 100 per cent candid about.
Remember this? Time for a Change, August 3, 2022
I decided this week to cancel my subscription to the Baltimore Sun/Howard County Times/Columbia Flier. At almost $350 dollars annually, it has become too weighty an expense to justify, especially since the local coverage has become scant and often downright inaccurate. Still, I’m grateful that the Howard County Library System offers free access to its patrons.
Right after that post I sent an email to the subscription department through the Baltimore Sun website and formally requested that they cancel my subscription. I explained why. I asked them to send me confirmation in writing that they had received my request and were taking action to honor it.
I received what looked like a computer-generated response that they had received my email to cancel my subscription and would be getting back to me shortly. If I had any questions I should call the phone number listed. Oh joy.
I decided that meant they were going to do what I asked but that their follow-up process was appalling. Silly me. Time went by, and I noticed I was still getting my digital copy of the Columbia Flier every week and I was still able to access older articles when I was doing research. Hmm.
I checked my bank account. There it was. The Baltimore Sun was still deducting its bloated monthly subscription cost and my subscription had never been terminated. I laughed. The answer was all in the telephone number. They knew I’d have to call and then I’d be subjected to the full sales pitch. “We’d hate to see you go. As a valued subscriber you qualify for a much lower “loyalty” rate…” Blah, blah, blah.
That’s why I tried to handle this in writing. I didn’t want to endure that phone call. It used to be that putting things in writing was the gold standard for handling business transactions. One would think that a newspaper, of all businesses, would understand that. Perhaps they do but it doesn’t suit their purposes.
So, I told you I was going to cancel my subscription. And I tried, but clearly not hard enough. And in the meantime having access to all those back issues for blog research has been so convenient. Current news? Not so much. My frustration with that hasn’t changed.
I’m not so excited by the new kid in town, the Baltimore Banner. They have already made some decisions that concern me. It looks like some of the tired old attitudes that the Baltimore Sun has become known for (and even apologized for) may have crept over into the Banner. They are new. They may very well learn from their mistakes. I’m still keeping an eye on them but I’m concerned.
Their Howard County coverage doesn’t thrill me, either.
While we are on this subject, everyone should invest in Baltimore Beat to help them fulfill their mission.
Baltimore Beat is a Black-led, Black-controlled nonprofit newspaper and online media outlet for all of Baltimore, but we believe that those who have been underserved, ignored, or shut out by most news deserve special consideration.
This isn’t about Columbia/HoCo at all. It’s about supporting a news organization that is elevating Black voices and telling Black stories in a town that has long neglected them. Take a look at their recent issues online. (There’s no paywall.) Make a donation if you can.
Here’s where I’m between a rock and a hard place. If I’m going to have the money to be a regular supporter of Baltimore Beat, I’m going to have to pick up the telephone and call the Baltimore Sun subscription department. I hate phone calls. But maybe that “low, low loyalty rate” will give me the financial wiggle room to do some good by supporting Baltimore Beat.
That would be worth it.
One more thing: if you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post, take a moment today if you have time. It’s not journalism but it is a good local story.
Metamorphosis, November 13, 2022