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ProJo going to paywall, people who don't subscribe getting pissed

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rhody31, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    The Providence Journal, one of two good dailies in the state (Newport Daily News being the other), announced it's going behind a paywall and have started the clock on a 30-day trial for their E-edition. When the 30 days is up (it started yesterday), you either pay or you're effed.
    People are losing their goddamn minds. Many I've talked to said they won't pay because they weren't paying before and I tell them that's great if you want to be an uninformed asshole.
    Rhode Island is a small state and there are many towns that don't have the luxury of having a local paper - weekly or daily - or a patch site. Those people are utterly and completely fucked because they'll have nothing, despite them thinking they'll be able to see it on TV or hear it on the radio.
    I think it's a good move for ProJo; so far the comments by people are pretty negative, with most saying they won't pay; of course, those people weren't paying before, so that's really not a big deal. If you subscribe to the paper, you get the E-edition for free.

  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Do you think people were really that informed before?
  3. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    I think a lot of people use newspaper websites to get their information, Stitch, especially the free ones.

    I no longer live in the area, but I read The Day of New London every day until three weeks ago when they went behind a paywall. I think the same thing happened there as well, with people complaining.

    I would be really interested to see how many additional subscriptions papers sell in the first or two after they go paywall.

    Personally, it annoys me when the subscription price is the same for getting the newspaper and the website as it is for just getting the website. I think there oughta be a deal.

    Rhody, as a Westerly guy, I think you're being too hard on the Sun, and I remember the Woonsocket Call being a decent newspaper. Is Newport still edited by URI guy Jim Gillis?
  4. SixToe

    SixToe Well-Known Member

    Newspapers missed out on the Internet from the start by not realizing what it could become, sticking with the mentality that it wouldn't affect them and, primarily, giving away the product.

    They have continued to give it away and now it's biting them in the ass. I like the New York Times model of 20 free stories a month and then either pay or you get nothing. They probably should have done fewer free visits but the compromise offer is better than "all or none."

    Putting all the content behind a paywall now will just ensure more problems. Some people will sign up. Many won't and will seek other free sites for their info.
  5. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    I always wonder what the these people think they did before widely available news on the Internet. If they value the information provided by the paper, pay. If they don't, don't.

    Mind, I agree it's too little too late, but continuing to give it away for free ain't going to help, so I applaud those trying paywalls. It's probably not the solution, but at least it's a thing that's different than the thing that hasn't worked for the past fifteen years.
  6. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    That's a great response. If you don't want our product, you're a stupid asshole.
  7. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Remember when everyone said, "You can't take a computer to the bathroom with you now, can you?"

    I bet you could even find people saying that in the recesses of this Web site.

  8. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Rhody, you and I disagree about this for a couple different reason...

    1) The new design looks pretty bad, at least to me. It looks like a Geocities site or something from the late 1990s. I definitely think the new design should have been separated from the paywall plan announcement. If they thought the design was going to be something that swayed people, then they were severely mistaken.

    2) I don't think anyone would claim that the Journal is better today than a year ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago, etc. Therefore, it comes off as patronizing to hear them talk about their awesome coverage on the site, or even worse, those horrible radio spots they've had lately. "We send a small army of reporters to cover the issues!" Well yes, if you emphasize the small part, and only if you're talking about parachuting in for suburbs coverage or state house coverage.

    3) The problem with the Projo's paywall plan is that they waited too long to do it. For example, The Westerly Sun has done it, and I think it's mostly worked, since there isn't any other place in Westerly to get free information; there don't have a Patch site, The Day doesn't really cover down there, and the only weekly is The Chariho Times, which is read for its sports coverage, not news.

    In Providence, the Projo now has competition from GoLocalProv. While I'm not a huge fan of it, it does seem to have some cachet with more of a right-ish reader. The Projo also has people nibbling in at the margins, such as The Phoenix with arts and music coverage, and Providence Business News with economic stuff. If you're looking for national news or Boston sports coverage, there isn't any reason to favor the Projo over the Globe or the Herald. And I think they're almost irrelevant when it comes to day-to-day, local, non-Providence news.

    The Journal is at its best when they cover things they have a ton of institutional knowledge about (Rhode Island politics) or a beat that's literally in their neighborhood (state house coverage). I think they should re-focus on those aspects, since there is probably enough of an audience to sell papers on those. (Side note: They also seem to be incredibly heavy on management, at least from a far, far outsider looking in perspective. Every time I go to a journalism event in this state, I meet some new manager from there.)
  9. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Gillis is still at the Newport Daily News, although I think he mostly works an A&E beat now, with some spot news and police and courts coverage and editing as needed. Great guy; always had some helpful tips for me whenever we were in the office. (I did my internship at NDN.)

    Westerly is struggling somewhat. Like many other places in Rhode Island, they don't pay anything. I left a little more than a year ago, and since then, two other reporters have because they were still making around or less than $30k after being there 3+ years. They switched managing editors a few years ago, and the new guy is mostly a PR flack who's blind to some local issues in favor of pet projects. (Think of the ME and EE from The Wire.)
  10. SixToe

    SixToe Well-Known Member

    I remember. I was one of the ones who said that.

    Fifteen years ago, no one saw or could conceive what would happen the Internet. Ten years ago, no one knew what "smart phones" would become. Five years ago, we had no idea about "tablets."

    But that's still not an entirely reasonable excuse to say that 10 years ago, when the Internet was obviously here to stay and was a game-changer, newspapers should have clung to the "Get it free!" mentality versus pay walls. They don't give away print copies two days during the week. Why give it away every day, 24/7, and then wonder why everyone bitches when asked to pay for it?
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The design is horrible. When I go to a newspaper website, I'd like to see more than just one headline and photo.

    Why don't more newspaper try to copy the NYTimes.com style?
  12. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member

    More likely, this reflects simple economics, not reader mentalities: Newspapers used to have a monopoly on information delivery systems with high barriers to entry--not hard to charge a minimal amount in that situation. Today, that's not the case. Readers have the opportunity to get much of the information they need elsewhere on the Internet. It no longer makes sense for them to pay for information arranged in bundles decided merely by the convenience of delivery routes and not reader interest.
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