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Old 04-13-2014, 11:38 AM
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Online Newspapers Subscriptions & Paywalls - Affecting You?

Doing research for my blog, I clicked a link to a story in a small Texas town newspaper - and was hit with a paywall. I could pay $10 for a one-month subscription to a newspaper that I won't likely ever read again, or try to find a way around the paywall.

This got me thinking about digital subscriptions and paywalls for online newspapers - is it working? Is it the way of the future? For the big guys with national or international readership (New York Times, Wall Street Journal), yeah, I see it working. But for the little, local newspapers? I think they're cutting off their nose to spite their face. It won't work. It can't work. Not like this anyway. $10 to read one article?

What if they had followed the New York Times "metered" model - where you're given free access to a limited number of articles, then required to pay? Then I would have been able to read the article free, and possibly quote it and link to it in my blog. Now my blog isn't going to send them enough traffic to make any sort of bump in their readership, but what if they happened to publish something that went viral - or rather, COULD have gone viral. It can't happen, not with hard paywalls like this.

I understand newspapers are floundering and failing - and they have to do something to make money on their digital editions. Apparently advertisers aren't willing to pay nearly as much for digital advertising as for print advertising, so what's a small newspaper to do?

I'm ok with the New York Times model - if I just want to read one article, it's free. I'd even be ok with a micropayment model - where you can read a single article for a small fee, say 50 cents. But I cannot justify paying $10 for a monthly subscription when I will only read one article and never visit this website again. It's insane!

The Dallas Morning News tried a subscription model but recently abandoned it, and they're the 8th largest paper in the US.

One last thought - the article that I wanted to read in this small-town newspaper was about a local rock band there. I'm sure these guys were stoked to get a write-up in the paper. But I wonder how they felt when they realized that nobody could read the article online without paying $10? I also wonder how many other write-ups they missed out on because of this paywall? At least one - mine.

So have you run into this while doing research for your content? If so, how do you feel about it? Do you have any thoughts about the future of online newspapers and how they can raise revenue?
 
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:36 AM
snakeair snakeair is offline
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I ran into this just trying to find information in the local newspaper's website. More and more people are getting there news online or from people/fanpages they follow on Facebook even.

Really no need to pay for the newspaper to get delivered to your home these day's. Since these newspaper companies profits going down, they notice there website traffic is up and will try to cash in on that. I have the NYT iPhone app installed and few times a month I read as much as I can.

I don't blame charging fee's for online newspaper websites. Save the tree's and stop buying the paper.

Although some of us like myself will not pay that subscription and search for local blog's writing about things in town. There are a few people who do this.

If the online newspaper websites continue to provide top notch news and also add more features to get there visitors interacting on the newspaper website, people just might pay whatever fee it is to have full access to everything.

Last edited by snakeair; 04-20-2014 at 06:39 AM.
 
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:21 AM
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I hear ya Snake - but I just don't think the model they're using is going to work for any news outlets except the giant ones that have wide readership - and even they allow a limited free access to articles.

But the little guys are trying to charge a monthly fee with absolutely no free access - I think this is doomed. I immediately thought "hey, there should be a service that provides access to newspapers across the country - you pay a fee to this service and get access to all these articles" - so I searched for such a service. Google tried something like this - Google One Pass - it wasn't limited to newspapers, any pay content was included. They abandoned the project - not enough interest.

PressReader is the only active one I found - and it's aim is really mobile devices. I didn't like the way it presented the news on my laptop (scrolling through articles horizontally).

I think the time has come for something like Google One Pass - it was abandoned a while back, I think they should have given it more time. I wish I had the resources to make this happen.

Anyway, my frustration is that this not only hurts my ability to write about small Texas town bands on my music website, it hurts those bands too. No sharing of articles, no chance to go viral. I want the newspapers to make money, I just think charging $10 for one article is not the way to do it.
 
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