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Charging for content — who whines the loudest?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by JayFarrar, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    So if your paper suddenly started charging for online content, what do you think the reaction would be?

    Here's the scenario, at least in my head, for let's say Tribune.
    Sam Zell: We can't give away our papers for free and still make money. All Trib outlets are now pay.
    The Romenseko roundup: Sam Zell is crazy. Of course we can give the news away and still expect people to buy the paper. This is the death knell for the Trib.
    The bloggers (also known as that Swedish guy who shows up around these parts): The news is free, man. The news has always been free.
    (Ignoring that it costs money to actually report the news)
    The very concerned Poynter people: Sam Zell is not a journalist and only journalists should be making these decisions. This is very much a problem.
    (Of course this ignores that many of journalism's biggest boners were made by journalists and then approved of by their journalist bosses.)
  2. greenlantern

    greenlantern Guest

    I think there would definitely be an adjustment period. People would be mad at first, but once they were used to paying for online content, I think the complaining would die down. However, there are some things that should be free. For instance, if a tornado blows away part of the town or city you live in, coverage of that online should be free. I feel at that point, we're not just a business. We're almost a public service.
  3. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Dumb question for those supporting pay-for-content: How to you avoid the cut/paste problem?
  4. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Something I've been wondering about is could a tiered system work? Say you have some stuff for free on the site, but other layers of content are behind a subscription wall.

    You could make all content available to those with subscriptions, basing it off the address the paper gets delivered to and a corresponding e-mail. Anyone else who wants to get behind the wall either ponies up for a print subscription, or pays an online subscription fee, say $2.00 a week. If you want a long-term online sub, you can get a discount, depending on the length of the deal. Sell your writers and local content as worth paying for over Yahoo or Google news.

    Am I crazy, or are we too far gone to try and implement something like this?

    Luggy, I have no idea how you combat that, but I think more people are going to go to the website they know instinctively over going somewhere that might have the story they're looking for copied and pasted on their website, but on the other hand may not.
  5. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    To answer the question in the thread slug ...

  6. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    I said it on another thread, but even papers like the NY Times realize they make more money off ads then charging customers for content (see: Times Select). No, online ads aren't on par with print ads, but this is about which brings in more cash.

    p.s. Do people really pay for the content in newspapers or the delivery method? If it's the content, I'd hope the stuff which is written is worth more than 50 cents ... :)
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    There are plenty of sites where you can essentially disable the ability to highlight stuff, thus making it almost impossible to copy and paste.
  8. VJ

    VJ Member

    There's really no reason why a paper can't turn its beat writers blogs into a premium model. Freakin' Rivals and Scout have college fans paying $9.95 a month to get recruiting info, you're telling me a Nebraska fan wouldn't pay $9.95 to the OWH for better info?
  9. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    Even a novice user can get around that by going directly to the source code and doing the copy/paste from there. The issue with that is that you also end up grabbing varying amounts of HTML code, but your average H.S. freshman can write a macro in MS Word to clean up 95% or more of the clutter.
  10. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Re: Charging for content — who whines the loudest?

    But when NCAA tournament time comes around, your paper would have a problem. The NCAA will credential your blogger (and, maybe, your paper) for the venue and allow you to blog only if your blog is free.
  11. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    Yep. There's a Javascript you can build into the page code.
  12. VJ

    VJ Member

    Who cares? Don't do a live-blog from the Nebraska-Oklahoma game then. Instead, have your website open up a chat room or something to engage readers.

    The point is you're providing premium content on the website that you aren't in the newspaper yet you're pricing model is to have people pay for the lesser of the two products. It's beyond stupid.

    THEN, we're pushing reporters and columnists to do more work on the blog at the expense of their work in the print edition, despite the print edition being the product that READERS ACTUALLY PAY FOR. Everything I read tells that at no point in the near future will the online advertising model be able to substain a newsroom, so it has to depend on print advertising and subscription revenues. If that's the case, then you need to find another source of revenue from the online audience, which is supposedly growing.

    SO... start charging not for basic access to the website, like someone said above, it prevents readers from getting public service information about weather or breaking news they need to know. But make them pay for the opinion, sports blogs, etc. that they can't get from the AP wire on Yahoo, Google, etc.

    The more I think about it, the more angry I get at the business and online departments across the country who essentially set up a model that is going to kill newspapers and cost tens of thousands of journalists their jobs.
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