It was gonna happen

I had a feeling this was going to happen. Yesterday a barage of opinions informed and otherwise exploded in Memphis when our local Scripps-Howard owned Commercial Appeal announced it was setting up a pay wall.

When I told my wife about the move she said, “Well, you knew it would happen someday.”Which is interesting considering everyone is supposed to believe that the web would be free forever.

I didn’t.

Making that big ol’ thing costs money. For too long subscription rates have dropped and website ad revenue has yet to make up anything close to the gap. Its just numbers folks. Its gonna happen.

The outrage on twitter was, as it always is, silly. People who are generally smart complained that the newspaper sucks (or more delicately, “Isn’t what it used to be” which can be said of any institution whether true or not and folks will click their tongues in approval) and they won’t pay for it. Which I find an odd argument.

First, if it sucks so bad that you won’t pay for it, why do you use it at all? And if you don’t, why do you care what they decide to charge?

Second, nothing is “what it used to be.” But many of the complaints that consumers have with their local newspaper have to do with the cheapening of news. The idea that corporate entities with their minds solely on the bottom line are slashing quality to make up for dwindling profit margins. This is true. So how then to stop the further cheapening? Certainly not by continuing with the free online / paid in print model that’s ruling the roost.

Its inevitable.

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2 Comments

Filed under Media, Memphis

2 responses to “It was gonna happen

  1. But how are we sure that the money we spend will go to improving the product? How can you determine that the product that they produce is worth the price they are charging?

    I suspect that they will see their online hits go down as people go to the Flyer or the Daily News instead. This is about perceived value, which is why you saw the response you did on Twitter yesterday.

    Check out Ross at VIBINC today – http://www.vibincblog.com/?p=3507

    • You can’t be sure. Its like any other private economic enterprise, you pay the fee and take the ride and if you don’t like the ride you don’t pay the next time. That’s how value is determined. Right now, the paper thinks its product is devalued so they’re making an arbitrary judgment based upon how much print subscriptions cost.

      As for the hits, sure they’ll go down some small amount but if you get 10 clicks for free most casual readers won’t bump up against it and those will be their highest traffic stories.

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