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Flooded town's paper behind paywall

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by copperpot, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    So, my former employer, the Press Enterprise in Bloomsburg, Pa., has never had a traditional news website. Instead, all it features is a PDF copy of the day's paper, and you have to pay to access it. I don't know that anyone ever paid much attention to it until now. The town was hit extremely hard by flooding, and the PE opened its site for a few days, largely because it couldn't deliver to a lot of its customers. It's closed again, and there's been a big outcry on Facebook and elsewhere that it should again make its content free for the good of the community. A weekly subscription is $2.50, by the way.

    Here's a sample of the arguments:
    "The bottom line here is that the town of Bloomsburg cannot distribute information to the national media or corporate donors when all of the news stories are behind a pay wall. The media ecology has changed and content is shared in ways well beyond Reuters and the Associated Press. Locked content is dead content. And Bloomsburg will suffer because of it. We have talked to several organizations personally who want to know more about what is happening in Bloomsburg and we have NOTHING we can link them to. I hate to be blunt, but I am pretty sure national corporations and media entities are not going to subscribe to a PDF of the Bloomsburg, PA newspaper so they can figure out what is happening there."

    "The community deserves to be able to have free access during this time of tragedy."

    "It would be great if you would open the paper up again, there are many people out of the area that would love to be informed."

    "I had to read about the Bloomsburg University football team helping with flood recovery efforts in the Centre Daily Times while your paper remains closed to the public and essentially non-existent online. I feel embarrassed for you."

    You know what I feel? I feel proud that the paper has kept itself relevant by NOT giving everything away. I think it's ridiculous to act like there's some sort of moral obligation to disseminate information for free. There are government agencies and others to do that. A newspaper's a business, and the PE's still trying to run like one. Good for them.

  2. KP

    KP Active Member

    If that's the model they are going with then they need to hold firm. Amazing how people take the paper for granted until they actually want something out of it - and where they used to simply run to the store and plunk down the 50 cents at the corner store expect everything to be sitting there on the web at their convenience.
    Try doing that to a tax accountant on April 15 and see how they like it.
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    If they used the floods as an opportunity to install the paywall, they'd be dicks. But this is their well-established business. I hope it works for them. Not sure if it will, but they have to try and they have to stick with it.
  4. Raiders

    Raiders Guest

    In times of emergency, vital information should be free of charge.
  5. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    A good time to test the NPR/donor model of media revenue.

    $2.50 per week
    x 15,000 population

    Agree to open the site for 6 weeks for as soon as you receive donations totaling $225,000.
  6. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    I guess the question is, is this still a time of emergency? And who gets to decide when it's over?

    They already had a pay wall up. They opened the site up to everybody while they were unable to do home delivery. Once home delivery was resumed they were under no obligation to keep the site open.

    Now if you will excuse me I need to go browse the Chicago Tribune, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the DMN...
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    A lot of people probably sustained car damage and couldn't get to work. The car dealerships should have let them come in and borrow one free of charge for a month.
  8. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    It's always easy to say what other people should do with their money and stuff.
  9. holy bull

    holy bull Active Member

    "I hate to be blunt," but this argument is so full of shit I want to puke. "Locked" content? It ain't locked. Copperpot, you should be proud that the paper made a generous gesture, albeit one partially driven by their own temporary distribution handicap, but ultimately stuck to its guns.

    I'm a little biased, since we reverted to a paywall/free hybrid two years ago after being completely free on the web site for awhile. You can't give it away. At least we can't.
  10. baddecision

    baddecision Member

    That argument maker is full of shit. He/she should embrace the "new media ecology" and start his own blog to cover Bloomsburg flood events for free.
  11. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    You're telling me none of the stations from Harrisburg, Scranton or State College are covering this?

    Oh, wait, you want to read something beyond three grafs on their websites or hear more in-depth details than provided in a 90-second report. Guess what? You're gonna pay for it.
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    If people need the news, they should pay for it. For me, buying the local paper is a choice, and I choose not to buy. I "need" electricity, so I pay for it. I "need" TV, so I pay for DirecTV. I "need" etc., etc., etc., and I choose to pay for it.
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