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The following appeared in an announcement issued by the
publisher of The Mercury,
a weekly newspaper.
"Since a competing lower-priced
newspaper, The Bugle, was started five years ago, The
Mercury’s circulation has declined by 10,000 readers. The best way to get
more people to read The Mercury
is to reduce its price below that of The Bugle, at least
until circulation increases to former levels. The increased circulation of The
Mercury will attract more
businesses to buy advertising space in the paper."
Discuss how well reasoned... etc.
A newspaper publisher is recommending that
the price of its paper, The Mercury, be reduced below the price of a competing
newspaper, The Bugle. This recommendation
responds to a severe decline in circulation of The Mercury during the 5-year
period following the introduction of The
Bugle. The publisher’s line of reasoning is that lowering the price of The
Mercury will increase its readership,
thereby increasing profits because a wider readership attracts more advertisers.
This line of reasoning is problematic in two
While it is clear that increased circulation
would make the paper more attractive to potential advertisers, it is not obvious
that lowering the subscription price is
the most effective way to gain new readers. The publisher assumes that price is
the only factor that caused the decline in
readership. But no evidence is given to support this claim. Moreover, given that
The Mercury was the established local paper,
it is unlikely that such a mass exodus
of its readers would be explained by
subscription price alone.
There are many other factors that might
account for a decline in The Mercury’s popularity. For instance, readers might
be displeased with the extent and accuracy
of its news reporting, or the balance of local to
other news coverage. Moreover, it is
possible The Mercury has recently changed
editors, giving the paper a locally unpopular political perspective. Or perhaps
readers are unhappy with the paper’s format,
the timeliness of its feature articles, its comics or advice columns, the extent
and accuracy of its local event calendar, or its
rate of errors.
this argument is weak because it depends on an oversimplified
assumption about the causal connection
between the price of the paper and its
popularity. To strengthen the argument, the author must identify and explore
relevant factors beyond cost before concluding
that lowering subscription prices will increase circulation and, thereby,
increase advertising revenues.