Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time to start paying...

Have you gotten used to reading your local newspaper on-line for free? Yeah, you look at the ads at the same time, so it's a fair trade, you're not really getting it for free, totally. Well, now, the big media corporations got you hooked, and now it's time to make you pay. Just like your local movie theater, you pay $11.50 a ticket and still are forced to watch TV commercials on top of the movie previews. You pay out the wazoo for cable TV and every channel is packed with commercials, unless you pay extra for a channel like HBO that doesn't have commercials. Commercials are everywhere we go -- and no one is paying us to watch them. They are assumed to be what we give up to get free or "cheaper" entertainment.

Well, the problem with newpapers, at least the big ones, is that they long ago forgot about local investigative reporting. They have created the opportunity which is being exploited by small-time bloggers. Charging for the crappy content that now is given away won't pull the big newspaper companies out of bankruptcy. Providing a better product is the only way to survive.

Here's a thought: pay the local bloggers to write a section of the newspaper.

Adapt to the future, or get replaced.

--from the big cheeze, Rex Frankel

Can Internet charges stem newspapers' losses?

Publishers hope readers will pay if content is no longer offered free.
By Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press
Posted: 05/25/2009

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is a rarity among large U.S. newspapers - it's selling more weekday copies than a decade ago. In Idaho, the Post Register's circulation has remained stable, while many print publications have lost readers to the Internet, where much of their content may be viewed for free. The executives behind the Arkansas and Idaho newspapers think they've been stable because they have been giving free Web site access only to print edition subscribers. Everyone else has to pay. "To just give it all away on a Web site is completely and blindly idiotic," says Roger Plothow, Post Register editor and publisher. That logic is starting to resonate with many publishers, who are preparing to erect toll booths on parts, if not all, of their Web sites. They hope the switch adds to online revenue and helps them keep print subscribers and ads. If it works, it would provide a sorely needed boost for an industry that has seen $11.6billion, or nearly one-fourth, of its annual advertising revenue dry up during the past three years. But ending free access could drive away many online readers and discourage online advertising at a time just as marketing budgets shift to the Internet.

As a result, 28 percent of newspaper executives responding to a recent survey by the Associated Press Managing Editors, a group of newspaper executives, said their publications are considering online fees.

Newsday's owner, Cablevision Systems Corp., plans to start charging for online access to the Long Island, N.Y., paper this summer. MediaNews Group, which owns the Daily Breeze and 53 other daily newspapers, has decided to charge for the online versions but hasn't said when. Hearst Corp. is assessing whether online fees could help save its 15 remaining daily newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Online fees will give people one less reason to stop subscribing to the newspaper" in the print format, said Steven Brill, Journalism Online's co-CEO. "Fewer people will be saying, `Why am I buying this thing when I can get it free online?"' Some commentators say the numbers don't add up. Former newspaper editor Alan Mutter, now an industry consultant and author of the blog, "Reflections of a Newsosaur," doubts most publishers understand how to produce the "content niches" that will cause people to ante up. Yet it's not an impossible task, said Walter Isaacson, former managing editor of Time magazine and now chief executive of the Aspen Institute, a think tank. Charging online fees "could create a discipline on journalism that produces more things of value," Isaacson said. "We could end up getting better journalism and a better business model out of it."

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