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Putting up a pay wall

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Beef03, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    I apologize if this has been discussed before and I missed it -- and if this is a better fit for the online journalism thread, moddys please feel free to relocate it -- but was wondering how many of you work at papers that have put up a paywall on your website for local news. My question is what kind of reaction did you guys get? I'm guessing most, especially initially was pretty negative, but was their any level of understanding from the public and most importantly did it work as far as people actually paying for a subscription either digital or home delivery? For those that haven't is there talk of your paper making the jump, and if not what's holding it back?

    I'm not doing a study, just curious as far as an industry view/reaction goes towards paywalls. Thought it would be a worthwhile discussion in the least.

    We did it about a month and a half ago. And while we still get letters about how we are greedy assholes (I know, wanting to actually get paid for a service, shame on us) we actually saw a 2 per cent increase in subscriptions, most of them home delivery, in July which is traditionally one of our slowest months and only about a 33 percent drop in page views. We were expecting a far greater drop in our page views.
  2. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    I wish our paper would go that route. For sports I put up capsules of most of our stories (full coverage in the print edition), but for features I'll often run the whole thing online.

    Just got back from a Where are they Now? interview today and at the end I ask the guy if he gets a subscription or else I could mail him a copy of this issue when it comes out. He replied casually that he'd just find it online.

    Sending out information is our job, but we need to be fostering paying customers for the service we provide. Ughh.
  3. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    Before we went to the pay wall I was careful about what I put up. Unless it was a gamer for our major junior hockey team I usually kept local stuff off until the morning especially with features, at least try to give people a reason to buy it in the morning. Now just about everything goes up in the night.

    My understanding is we weren't making money off the site without the pay wall -- online advertising wasn't even covering the costs of running the site or if it was it was at break even -- and it was only worse when the lost subscriptions were taken into consideration because they could get it for free online. It took four years of hammering away at the higher ups for them to institute a pay wall. Finally they relented. The vocal public reaction at our audacity to do so has been frustrating but they are slowly shutting up about it.
  4. Gomer

    Gomer Active Member

    It's all about how you put up the wall. We did ours at the same time as a (horribly, poorly) redesigned website, so you can imagine how that went over.

    To be honest though nobody has told us in the newsroom whether subscriptions went up, down or sideways.

    The big thing we need now is an app for mobile devices and tablets - or at least a site that formats differently when viewed by one of those devices. I suggested it a year ago...
  5. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    yes, this is the future of the biz...get the information out for the subscriber price. I don't are if you read it on paper, on your Kindle or on your laptop, but we should expect readers to pay for our product.
  6. rebelpaul

    rebelpaul New Member

    We put up a pay wall last July, and the paper itself hasn't seen a massive drop off in home delivery. Our page views are steady and are in relation to what our numbers were last year. We're working hard to increase our visibility and convincing people to come to our website.
  7. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    We did ours with a redesign as well. The redesign isn't horrible, but it definitely isn't as smooth as it could be. It certainly is better than our old site which was about five years out of date design-wise, at the very least.
    I also recommended we look into getting an app about a year and a half ago and am still waiting on that to come to fruition.
  8. Shoeless Joe

    Shoeless Joe Active Member

    We did it about a year ago, I think. There was some initial sniping from the public, but it's my understanding is that our printed delivery circulation increased because the "I can get it for free crowd" no longer could.

    There were some direct to internet subscriptions, too, but I think most were a combo because that was the best deal. If you signed up for a printed subscription, you automatically got full web access.

    There was one knucklehead who called and actually said, "Y'all are just trying to make money off people." to which I replied, "Yes. Don't you expect to be paid when you go to work?" he just said "Oh, well, yeah" and hung up.
  9. Beef03

    Beef03 Active Member

    We actually had one local radio station phone the newsroom -- our web editor I believe -- asking for a free online subscription so they still had access to our local news for their "news cast". This same local radio station before the pay wall once phoned our web editor up because it was almost 9 a.m. and we hadn't updated our website yet and they needed him to do so so they could put together their "news cast". I believe both times he laughed and hung up on them, among a few other choice words.
  10. prezclinton

    prezclinton Active Member

    How many of you put up a pay wall, though, with a direct competitor that covers 50 percent of your area or more? People like free and if you have competition then you're taking a big risk with a pay wall, no?
  11. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I love this one. One time when somebody complained we were covering the local team with a winning record a lot more than the winless team she said that "Y'all are just trying to sell papers." I said, "yeah, that's the business. Do you go down to the Ford dealership and complain they are just trying to sell cars?"
  12. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    We put a paywall about a year ago and the complaints just kill me. "Well, it used to be free."

    "Well it used to be free on the website." Well, Cokes used to come only in bottles, movies used to have original plots and gas used to cost a $1 a gallon. Just because it used to be a certain way doesn't mean it is ever coming back like that again.

    Or I love when people call and ask if I can send them a story, for free. I always ask them if they get free milk and eggs from Kroger and when they inevitably answer no, I ask them why would they think they can get my commodity, information, for free as well.

    Once you devalue your product by giving it away, it's hard to make people see that it has value again. It's a matter of fixing the barn door after all the cows run away. But it's better than nothing in our case.
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