editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Dreaming of a pay day

January 10th, 2008 · 3 Comments

I have to say that I’m surprised that there are still news organizations even contemplating a pay model.

While reading the Terms of Service (I know, I know, hold the lectures about the geekiness of reading TOS) for one of my local newspapers, I came across this gem:

“Currently, service is free to all users . . . reserves the right to charge for this service in the future.”

Intrigued, I Googled the “…charge for this Service…” portion of the phrase and discovered that there are still a few publications publicly holding on to this fleeting dream, including:

Now if I recall correctly, the New York Times not that long ago dropped their pay wall and today the Wall Street Journal dropped pay access for the opinion portion of their site en-route to the much anticipated and likely overall abandonment of their pay model. So that leaves?????

So what do you think, are my local newspaper and these other sites dreaming of one day collecting something similar to the WSJ.com’s $99 annual fee or is this just a case of sloppy TOS?

Tags: Best Practices · Industry · Local Newspapers · Online

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Susan Schwartz // Jan 11, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Our newspaper, the Press Enterprise in Bloomsburg, PA, charges for the online edition. It costs money to pay reporters and photographers to cover the news. Why would we give it away for free? Online advertising isn’t enough to support the operation.

  • 2 Mark Dykeman // Jan 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    While I appreciate what Susan Schwartz is saying in her comment above, what is so compelling about her newspaper’s content that people would want to pay for the on-line edition?

    I know that it costs an organization to produce news (on-line or print), but it’s really fighting a losing battle when the bigger players aren’t charging the consumer, isn’t it?

  • 3 Susan Schwartz // Jan 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I think the difference is that we deal with a small market – 23,000 paid circulation for the traditional paper. No one else covers local issues regularly. The bigger players, in this case, are at a disadvantage, since they have competition that is, as Mark says, giving it away online for free.

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