My newspaper, The Montreal Gazette, recently announced that it’ll be charging for it’s on-line version, although hard-copy subscribers will get free access as part of their subscription. Many newspapers are going the same route, as they try to transition their readers from paper to the much less expensive on-line proposition. You’ve certainly noticed that many articles in the hard-copy of your newspaper now have a line at the bottom that says: “More [details, photos, etc] on line at: http://www.yournewspaper.com”.
Personally, I resent this effort to herd me like a cow funneled down the narrow curved corral all the way to the killing box. I didn’t pay you my $27.95 a month to have to go to your fu#^ing web site to get the rest of my news!
But there’s a danger to this whole strategy, which, I suspect, is why the papers are taking their time in making this transition. When you have home delivery of a newspaper, you tend to be pretty selective about what you order. There’s no point getting 4-5 newspapers when you only have enough time to read one. As a result, you tend to order the one or two papers that cover the most bases for your interests.
Once you go on-line however, it’s a free-for-all. There are tons of free online newspapers, taking the gamble that traffic alone will generate advertiser revenues. I like The Huffington Post, but if it started charging for subscription, I’d switch in a heartbeat. And I would never actually subscribe to an on-line paper for money because I can get my news in many other places for free. My son and daughter have both confirmed this phenomenon in their own cases; they do not and will not pay for any form of news subscription.
There’s a tactile and functional experience that is unique with reading the morning paper. One doesn’t read a paper newspaper in the same way as a computer version; and I’m no dinosaur…I have an iPad and read tons of stuff on line. But I like a paper paper! Then again, it’s probably a generational thing; but I don’t think that newspapers are getting the subscription rates they’ve hoped for to their on-line offerings. Maybe I’m wrong….maybe I am a dinosaur.