Consultant and Author D. K. Christi

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Internet Pricing for News Archives

Posted by dkchristi on May 13, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Internet Info Pricing Gaining Speed  Blog Post by DK Christi - May.13.2012 - 1:16 pm 

  "Have you checked out your article links to the News-Press lately?  They don't link.  Instead, you are taken to their archives where you can begin the search and pay for the results.  How long have they been charging to view copy no more than a few months old?" 

That question came from a colleague in the promotions business; he knows his stuff; yet, the dawn was just beginning for him.  I've seen it coming and started scanning my press some time ago.  It does not mean I like it.

Recently, Naples Daily News, a local paper that has remained popular because of its emphasis on what's local, has just announced they will soon be entering the "pay" arena for Internet copy, that they could hold out no longer.

A report on The Wall Street Journal and their consistent pay policy for online subscriptions indicated the subscription, archive and ad fees for online journalism makes certain the reader continues with their favorite "brands" and receives the news and the "voice" that is preferred.  Content is not totally controlled by ad revenue.

I remember when the power of the Internet first hit me.  I went on a searching frenzy to every museum in the world, a Google Earth tour of the greatest landmarks including The Great Wall of China, and a book tour to download all the classics I could recollect at that time - for free.  I believed this new, free, information explosion was the answer to illiteracy, world-wide communication, educational inequities.  I was in Internet fantasyland.

Nothing is free.  Even libraries that provide computers with access, limit that access to some degree, either in time or limited sites.  A person with class knows that a wifi hot spot at a restaurant or coffee shop encourages the expenditure of a few dollars for food or drink.  Now, a credit card or Paypal account is required for access to many sites and certainly to obtain full copy on a news article or other documents. 

Business realities are present, of course.  Someone has to pay to manage the sites, control the content and communicate.  From the total lack of human communication with most sites,  I assume much of that is done overseas at rock bottom cost for technical assistance.  My friends at major newspapers are becoming "stringers" instead of "employees" at a skyrocketing rate.  Whatever freedom comes from freelance reporting brings expenses and lack of benefits or long run security.  It works well for the media.  Competition for journalism positions is high; freelance wages low; the law of supply and demand.

Where will all this "pay as you read" Internet lead us?  I think it's a mistake and a loss for those who believe that total access in the world is a unifying concept and that education is liberating.  A cost and inconvenience factor limits critical publicity also.  I don't follow those links to the archive, join the paper and punch in my credit card or Paypal.  No, I just skip that piece of information and move on to something else.

For me and for my friend with the promotions businesss, these links that are disappearing into a pay as you read Internet archive are a negative in reaching an audience.  I don't like this direction at all.  It's sort of like the free web sites one joins and then becomes bombarded with invitations to "upgrade" to a paid site to get the benefits one though as "cost free."  I am disappointed in the mainline media. 

It's fortunate that a lot of the mainline news reporters with a true compass on factual news have started their own own blogs.  It is possible today to obtain beneficial news without resorting to my two local papers or the big guys in the big cities.  I think once the Internet is saturated with those who charge for copy that was free in print or already paid for by a print subscription, readers will become wise and move their interest elsewhere. 

For the moment, my small town of Bonita Springs has a monthly newsprint magazine, Southwest Spotlight, in print and online, with no charge for a subscription and no charge for online copy from its archives.  It's just over a year in production and gaining a real "buzz on the street" for local content.  They do it all with advertising revenue.  They are in an expansion mode, actually hiring staff in addition to a few stringers from its startup.  I hope they can maintain their Internet presence without succumbing to the current business practice of charging for online content. 

Oops.  I just googled a Chamber of Commerce for an article about a business ribbon cutting; instead of hosting a Chamber generated picture on the site, it linked to the News-Press.  Therefore, no picture.   I'll take my own before I'll take the extra time to search an archive and pay for the copy.  Personally, I think the newspapers are losing lots of re-posting and word of mouth advertising through links that no longer connect.  But, who am I?  Just a consumer who is also a journalist who receives zero benefit from those online charges and many headaches when researching an article.


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