TUPPER LAKE - Because some people thought the paper was free - as in, you don't have to pay to get it - the Tupper Lake Free Press has taken a step to make its price absolutely clear.
In the masthead banner of Wednesday's issue of the hometown weekly, the Free Press printed the word "Free" in barely visible four-point type, while increasing the size of the word "Press" to about 120- or 130-point type, bigger than the words "Tupper Lake."
The newstand price of the paper, 75 cents, is still printed in 18-point type in the banner, while the rest of the information on that line is in 10-point type, which Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland said was a more subtle attempt he tried a few years ago to let people know the paper has a price.
The masthead of the Tupper Lake Free Press changed this week to include a 4-point font size for the word “Free” and enlargement of the word “Press.” The paper costs 75 cents or $1 for home delivery.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)
McClelland said in an editorial in this week's issue that he made the change because local business owners have told him they have to chase visitors who leave the store without paying for the newspaper. He said the "Shaheen boys" who run Shaheen's IGA supermarket always gave him a hard time about it.
"I felt kind of bad for the merchants," McClelland told the Enterprise.
Ayupe Shaheen, who used to own the grocery store but has since passed it on to his sons and nephew, said he likes the change.
"I've been telling him for years," Shaheen said. "These people come in, and they pick it up, and they just walk out the door."
Shaheen said he sees this happen all the time, especially during the tourist season.
"It will save a lot of chasing this summer," Shaheen said. "Now it looks like a paper that has to be bought."
McClelland said that when the paper was named in 1931, the title meant something different than it does today.
"The name was probably coined when it represented free speech," McClelland said.
Since the advent of free newspapers in the last few decades, though, many people think "free" means no cost.
McClelland said he is not sure if he will stick with the change to the banner, but he had some extra time in the last week and wanted to try the idea out before summer arrives, with its surge of out-of-town visitors.