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"I can get it free on the Web" -- just an idea

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Sneed, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    This is a crossthread, but I noticed in the thread "local paper" that a lot of folks who don't want to pay the high cost of buying a newspaper are just going to the internet to get what news they want, whether local or whatever.

    This is just an idea, so don't sic the hounds on me, but I wanted to see what you thought.

    Why not put teasers on the web, instead of full stories? For example, with games, just post the final score, maybe a picture, and tell the viewers that the full story will be available in the print edition? And then, maybe a week later for dailies, maybe two weeks later for bi-weeklies and maybe a month later for weeklies, or something like that, put the full story on the web for archives?

    And, what about trying that with an entire paper? For news stories, "Podunk County Government Raising Taxes, see full story in the paper." For editorials, "Cindy LooHoo pissed that Grinch Stole Christmas, see why in the paper." For columns, same thing. Get the idea?

    I don't know, maybe there's some problem with it I'm not seeing. This is just a shotgun idea I'm slapping down right now, I literally just thought of it, but I'm sure someone else has before. Why wouldn't it work?
  2. Bump_Wills

    Bump_Wills Member

    Besides the fact that no one would look at the Web site again after running into that brick wall?

    This is a behavior issue. No amount of jacking around with people by "training" them to go to the newspaper is going to change their habits. Print can't be saved by trying to trick people into reading it.

    The best thing print can do is play to its unique strengths. Same with online. Unfortunately, we've been trying to turn the printed page into a video screen for so long that I doubt we can pull out of the nosedive now.
  3. Smallpotatoes

    Smallpotatoes Well-Known Member

    At my paper or papers, it seems that people don't read the sports section so much for learning what's going on in local sports as they do for scrapbook material.
    With the shrinking sections, in order to fit something in the paper, something else almost always has to be left out. With youth sports and team pictures, people want those things IN THE PAPER. If you can't fit in somebody's Little League write-up, but put it on the Web, that doesn't really cut it. People want the paper so they can put it on their refrigerator and send to relatives. If somebody buys 10 copies of the paper with the expectation that something is in the paper, you've just lost a reader, maybe and maybe a few more readers. Telling them it's on the Web is not going to placate them.
    There's also a group of people who look at it as a way to get free advertising for their AAU or select teams and camps. As I've said before, nobody cared about the bang-out coverage that I gave two state championship games and Thanksgiving football. I got yelled at because some guy's AAU baseball tryout notice didn't get in the paper. Again, they want it IN THE PAPER, not just on the Web site.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    There are papers which do this. It's not a bad idea as far as it goes – and it's what I would do on our site if I was running it – but it ain't gonna save the dead-tree business model.
  5. amoney

    amoney New Member

    We do it at my shop. Leads are free, along with headlines. Anything else (including the archives) you got have a subscription. We are 20K shop, but have 5K online only subscribers. But, i think it only works in town where there is little competition.
  6. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

  7. jackfinarelli

    jackfinarelli Member

    I live in the DC suburbs. If I read some kind of "teaser" on the website of the Seattle Times - - to pick an example - - and cannot read the whole story, that is not going to tempt me to go out and find a newsstand around here that happens to have a copy of today's Seattle Times. And for sure, I won't subscribe to the Seattle Times from 3,000 miles away.

    So, I'm not sure how this "saves" the Seattle Times.

    But I am sure that it would annoy me sufficiently that I would stop visiting their website...
  8. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I'm not a big fan of teasers jumping from one medium to another.

    But I do like the idea of not putting full content on the web. A few paragraphs of basic news would suffice.
  9. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    I remember grumbling about this with colleagues a few years back, how the Web sites -- had they been used this way from the start -- could have helped the paper as a promotional tool rather than cannibalized it as a replacement.

    Can't think of other businesses that would decide, hey, let's give away in one form what we charge people for in the other. Guess they figured paid subscriptions only cover costs of paper, printing and delivery, so what's the difference?

    But I don't even see Internet ads, compared to noticing them in print form. No wonder the digital ones don't make money.
  10. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Chances are that if you live 3,000 miles from Seattle, you not clicking on seattletimes.com because of a paywall doesn't mean dick.
    No offense, but chances are that most of the web advertising is local, like say a fish house, and since you aren't a local reader, you won't be eating at the fish house anyway.
    So why should the Times and its advertisers care about you?
    If you live in a town that is a tourist destination, I could see more value in putting up some content for free, but why not just the restaurant reviews and other things tourists might be interested in?
    The web approach has always been lets throw whatever comes next and see if it sticks.
    Why aren't papers in the destination business?
    You want detailed information, and aren't from the are, here's a complete package on local hotels, restaurants and attractions for tourists.
    Here it is, but charge for it, or charge the places listed in the information to be placed there. I'm sure nobody visiting Orlando gives a flying fudge about the school board or whatever else is the local news of the day.
  11. pressmurphy

    pressmurphy Member

    The flaw of this model is that newspapers are not information monopolies. If the paper chooses to not put a game story online, most communities have 3-4 TV stations, perhaps a 24-hour local cable news channel, an all-news radio station, an alternative weekly, suburban weeklies, etc., that might be able to willing to supply the contest for free.

    Granted, their stories might suck massively, but people vote with their wallets. They'll settle for 200 free words online instead of paying for it in print or online.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Disagree. For some readers, yes, the information is interchangeable. But I don't believe that's true for all. And the ones for whom it is true are not our customers.

    And even if it were true for all readers, what have newspapers lost? A pittance in web ad revenue?
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