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.
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.