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Guest Columnist: P.C. Reinvigorates its Spring Campaign

By May 10, 2024June 26th, 2024No Comments

John Saito Jr.

Since 2017, newspaper subscribers to the Pacific Citizen have been paying a fee for the printed edition of the P.C. Prior to that, all JACL members received the newspaper as part of their membership.

The $17 annual surcharge was proposed and approved at the 2016 JACL National Convention in an effort to increase revenue and avoid staff layoffs.

It was a pivotal moment: Our members were given the choice of either paying for the printed edition or getting the digital version sent to them via email at no cost.

The majority of our members, it turns out, opted for digital. In the first year that the surcharge was implemented, more than half did not add the $17 P.C. fee to their membership renewal dues. In the ensuing seven years, the number of those who pay for the newspaper, ostensibly due to the passing of our older members, has continued to decline.

The rapidly changing media landscape is now dominated by digital platforms. But I continue to subscribe to the P.C. newspaper. Maybe it’s because I am compelled to support community journalism.

The other part is that I simply enjoy reading a newspaper. It’s a pleasurable experience. As a lifelong subscriber to the Los Angeles Times, I’ve been torn between renewing or canceling my subscription. I have been on the phone with customer service trying to get a better deal than the $1,095 yearly rate I’m currently paying.

I’ve enjoyed seeing that the P.C. is now printed in full color on a brighter, thicker paper stock. The color has added a visual pop to the overall layout of our stories, columns, advertising and tributes.

In my current role as P.C. editorial board chair, I have been engaged with the other P.C. board members, Executive Editor Allison Haramoto and her staff in supporting P.C. operations. The staff informed the board that due to steady increases in printing and postage costs, they would like to raise the surcharge fee from $17 to $22. The P.C. prints 22 issues each year, so you would be paying $1 per issue. The P.C. editorial board approved the increase in March and presented the proposal to the JACL National Board at last month’s board meeting. The increase would take effect next year.

The P.C. board is sensitive to any fee increases that might impact our readers’ finances. I recall that after the $17 surcharge was approved in 2016, at least one JACL chapter paid the surcharge for all of its members. If any of you have concerns about this planned increase, please let me know. You can email me at

Additionally, the staff has asked for the board’s support during its current Spring Campaign, P.C.’s annual fundraising appeal to readers. The P.C. budget is thin as a razor, and the surcharge doesn’t cover the actual cost of what it takes to print the paper. So, the money will go toward supporting operations. We hope to raise $25,000. I’ve made my gift, and I hope you will, too.

And oh, my persistence in contacting the L.A. Times paid off. I was able to get their best rate of $1 per day.

Thank you for reading!

John Saito Jr. is the Pacific Citizen editorial board chair and president of the Venice-West Los Angeles JACL chapter.