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SF Chronicle Web Model - Comments Please

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jackfinarelli, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. jackfinarelli

    jackfinarelli Member

    The SF Chronicle has print editions and digital editions. On its website, it now holds some of its columns/features for about 48 hours unless one is a digital subscriber. For example, here is what you see if you try to read Scott Ostler's column for today online:

    This story is exclusive to the Chronicle's Tuesday print edition and will not appear on SFGate.com until 4:00 AM on Thursday, July 8. To buy an electronic version of the Tuesday paper now, go to http://sfg.ly/9hZRui. Print subscribers can go to http://sfg.ly/a0EgVK to sign up for free e-editions.

    Will this be a business model that spreads elsewhere? It seems to me to be better than a paywall and better than providing all content at no cost.
  2. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I don't see how this is going to work. Our local paper does something similar, touting a "print exclusive" in the Sunday edition that doesn't appear online for a couple of days. I'm not paying just for that one story when I know I can get it for free if I wait.
  3. lantaur

    lantaur Well-Known Member

    e-editions have been around for a while and have never been a success. In my experience, the people who have been ga-ga over e-editions (or pdf pages) are print editors who think readers want to - no, *need to* - see the paper "as intented" with mastheads, etc. (That's always been delusional thinking, IMO)
  4. BujuBanton

    BujuBanton Member

    It's not delusional if the paper started doing it right away and never gave the content away to begin with. The small daily I work for is thriving because they went the pdf route from the start. Advertisers still get viewed by online readers and a revenue stream exists there, unlike at most places.

    The papers that gave it away from the start and have made readers feel like it is their right to have it free are the ones that have shot themselves in the foot.
  5. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    Interesting question here. I agree with copperpot ... I think in order for it to work the two products would have to be totally different, so that I need to subscribe. I wonder if maybe the model -- and I know this will sound crazy -- is to go minimalist on the Web. Give people enough so that they have the basics and save the good stuff for print. At my place, the ad people can't seem to sell ads on the Web. The few and proud businesses that are still buying ad space want it in print. Or so the ad people tell us.

    @ lantaur, on the question of seeing the paper "as intended," there are certain things that people continue to want in print. For those of us who spend most of our time and space covering preps, how many times have you heard a parent ask "when's that going to be in the paper?" And when we tell them it's going to be on the Web, they ask again, "will it be in the paper?" Maybe that mentality will die out as people who grew up with the Web start having kids who play sports, but I'm not so sure. Parents -- at least today's parents -- want to have stuff to save for posterity. We all loathe the idea of existing to fill scrapbooks, but it's a reality. These are the readers who religiously follow what we write. And there's something about the presentation on the Web that minimizes the impact for them. Do you imagine people saving a stack of 8 1/2 by 11 pieces of paper printed out from the Web?
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    The problem is that not enough people will care to buy the print product. I don't see circulation growing.

    A few other papers have tried the SF Chron model, including the Strib in the Twin Cities. No one is going to buy a Sunday paper for a story they probably don't care about in the first place.
  7. jackfinarelli

    jackfinarelli Member


    I agree completely with you that few folks will buy a paper to see one thing they might want to see but they also have to get the rest of the paper that they may care or care less about. I live in the Washington DC suburbs; I really do not want a subscription to the SF Chronicle - - but I do enjoy reading Scott Ostler and Bruce Jenkins and Ray Ratto and a few other Chronicle columnists.

    What I do not have a feeling for is whether or not withholding their work for 48 hours - - or so - - might be sufficient to get some folks to buy a "digital subscription". I won't; I have the patience to wait to read these columnists a couple of days "late". But might this get the SF Chronicle a wave of digital subscriptions?

    I don't have an answer for that...
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