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A LITTLE HYPERINFLATION AT TRT?

Pricing

Hey, we all make mistakes. We make mistakes as individuals, and sometimes as members of businesses or other organizations that allow our failings to leak out into public view.

Reporters and editors know all too well the sinking feeling that goes with having made a blooper in print. It’s the kind of thing that can undermine a lot of good work very easily. Of course, this is true in many other fields as well.

At the moment, some poor soul at the Two River Times may be feeling the pang of regret somewhat acutely because of erroneous info that made it into print last week.

Not that the mistake was big, because it wasn’t. Far from it. Nobody was libeled. No one outside the newspaper would have any personal reason to complain about the error.

In fact, what makes the error even noteworthy is that the mistaken information was about the TRT itself.

The error concerns the stated justification for an increase in the price of newsstand copies of the TRT. This week, that price was doubled, to $1.

Why such a large increase? A “message to readers” box on page one of last week’s TRT attributed the jump to rising printing and publication costs.

Now, normally, a 100-percent increase might call to mind the insane world of real estate and the hyperinflation sometimes seen in places like Venezuela. Cognizant of this, apparently, someone at the TRT thought readers should know that this was a special circumstance. Thus, the TRT included this sentence in its reader message:

“This is the first increase in our newsstand price since the paper was established in 1991.”

We called the TRT about the increase on Thursday and had a nice chat with chief operating officer Donna Rovere. She told us quite frankly that while costs have risen, one goal of the price boost was to drive customers to yearly subscriptions, which remain unchanged at $30.

That’s a real bargain actually, when you consider that you get 51 issues mailed to your home for about 59 cents per week. Plus, subscribers get two issues a year of TRT: the Book, a magazine about the swell life here between the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers.

Rovere also defended the increase as the first for single-copy sales since the TRT debuted in 1991.

But could that be true? We recall paying $10 or $12 for a yearly subscription to the TRT back in the day. Had the subscriber rate kept pace with inflation while the newsstand price did not?

It turns out that TRT apparently didn’t have the facts straight about its own history.

In response to an inquiry from redbankgreen, Claudia Ansorge, who founded the TRT, says the weekly debuted in 1990, not 1991. (The paper’s own masthead, which appears on the editorial page, also gives 1990 as the start year.)

Moreover, Ansorge adds via email, “Since I have the original printing plates from the first issues of the TRT hanging on my office wall, I can say with absolute authority (and not from my addled memory) that the original price was an honest 25 cents.”

That price remained in effect “for years,” she says, though she no longer remembers exactly when it was increased.

Ansorge now owns Ansorge Unlimited, publisher of Red Bank Red Hot magazine and the Red Bank Tipsheet. She sold her stake in the TRT to her then-partner, Geraldo Rivera, in 1996 (according to the masthead). Rivera in turn sold the paper to Mickey and Diane Gooch of Rumson in November, 2004.

Apparently, along the way, the newspaper’s account of its own history became something akin to memoir, a genre in which “facts” stored in the writer’s head don’t always square with the record.

After we heard from Ansorge, we spoke again with Rovere, who was not aware that the reader message was erroneous, and thus was unable to say where the mistaken info might have come from.

“But obviously, Claudia would know (the original price), because she founded the paper,” said Rovere, who joined the TRT in 1993.

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