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More Newspapers Going Behind The Pay Wall

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 6:36 AM
From Clark Howard show notes:
We've all gotten used to reading anything we want from newspapers and magazines for free online. But that model is about to change.

Newspapers have finally hit the point where they can't do this anymore. One by one, they're starting to charge.

Read more

This will make it harder for us to share news stories in the forum. We already have a hard time with WSJ articles. You can sometimes view WSJ articles for free via Google News (see post), but this doesn’t work for some newspapers that have gone behind pay walls.

Ken TuminKen Tumin5,471 posts since
Nov 29, 2009
Rep Points: 125,600
1. Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 7:09 AM
Some online newspapers allow a limited number of articles to be read for free. The NY Times, for example,  allows ten articles per month.
ShorebreakShorebreak2,670 posts since
Apr 6, 2010
Rep Points: 14,473
2. Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 10:13 AM
That story is not much. Just a few instances cited. And seems to me they might not even be accurate, as he says he has given up on going to the Boston Globe Website since it started charging, instead goes to the free IS the Boston Globe's Website! Same for SFGate, it IS the San Francisco Chronicle's Website. 

It remains to be seen whether they will be able to charge for news online. Yes, a few of the very top majors are trying it. But frankly, it is not likely to become widespread. The online world is NOT like the print world. You have competition from not only all over the country when you are online, but all over the world. Not so for your locally delivered print newspaper. And it is entirely too easy, simple and fast to simply flip to a different news provider instead, unlike with a printed product. Only the very top newspapers might get away with charging online, those that a LOT of people consider to be completely indispensable -- but that too is not likely to last for the long term. 

More likely is what some are trying, to limit the number of articles you can click into for free each month. But frankly, that will only affect the seriously non-techy readers, as a simple free online proxy will get you around that monthly count. Alternately, they might charge only for major exclusives, meaning no competitors have that. But then, how much are you going to keep paying like that just to find out if you even want to read the article?

Further, the online world is deeply dependent on search engine optimization (SEO). Charging for access pretty well completely undermines that. What good is it to have your story picked up by SEO if the people clicking through can't access the story?! And the business plan for newspapers has always been that the money is made off of the advertising, not the subscription price.

(This more recent focus by news operations on subscription price is really because of the change in the past two decades from family owned newspapers to corporate owned operations that think they can get away will fleecing everyone at every turn in search of ever higher profit margins, just don't understand or appreciate the business plan or news itself. This new corporate approach has only served to diminish the circulations of newspapers, so lose them advertising, even though the newspapers won't tell you that, blame the circulation loss all on the Internet.)

The business plan is that the subscription price is merely to regulate the size of the circulation, as well as be a token to show advertisers that the subscribers actually will be reading the newspaper regularly so that the advertisers can feel confident their ad will be seen. So, the only sensible or even legitimate reason to charge for news online would be to show the advertisers there are serious, regular readers at that Website. But because of so much competition online, it won't be very possible for the vast, vast majority of news sites to charge -- and so the free access at those sites will completely undermine even the majors' attempts to charge. So, another way will have to be found to prove to advertisers that there are regular, serious readers and how many and who they are. Simply lying about who and how many unique visitors you have, as too many or most Websites do, is not sufficient. More likely than charging for reading the news stories online is that they would require a login, and would keep track of how many logging in visit daily or very regularly.

So far, no one has really come up with a way to make any where near as much money online as they did in print. And as the print operations go under, all that staff will go with it (those that already have ceased print publications -- the Detroit Free Press was the first -- have dramatically, even draconianly cut their staffs for the online product), and so even the majors will be offering very diminished news coverage. This is not going to help them be able to charge readers for it.
me1004me1004373 posts since
Jan 16, 2010
Rep Points: 2,596