Wall Street Journal’s mystery mathematics

I received a “Professional Courtesy Rate” subscription offer from the Wall Street Journal, with the letter’s top lines reading: “Summer Sale — Save Over 65% — 6 months for $99 –You save more than $640.” The “saving” is compared to the “Newsstand price of $964 for 1 year.” I am offered “intro” prices of $99 for 6 months or $197.94 for 1 year. Well, for a newspaper boasting that it provides “Trusted insights on business, markets and economy,” I wonder about its mathematics. Based on a 1 year newsstand price of $964, the 6 month newsstand price would be $482, thus making it a monetary miracle if I could “save more than $640” by paying only $99. Of course, I would “save” $766.06 if I subscribed for one year at $197.94 instead of paying $964 at the newsstand. (And I could save a whopping 6 cents if I subscribed for 1 year at $197.94 instead two 6 months subscriptions at $99.) But I still have no idea where they get the promised “savings” of “more than $640” for a 6 month subscription. A resurrection of Reagan’s Voodoo Economics? Or Tom Lehrer’s explanation of “New Math”? And publishers wonder why newspaper subscriptions are declining.

-Robert Skole

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