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June 08, 2007

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Comments

Bill Martin

Right on ... I agree with you. Thanks for pointing out some things that have slowly been bleached from my mind.

Jeff

I've been contemplating an online subscription (hard copy isn't suitable to me for several reasons), but I just can't get over the hump; it's just not worth the money.

I do miss Ms. Hall being torn apart in the Montana blogosphere, though.

Nicole

As someone who does write for the Chronicle (for the niche pubs--Business to Business, Balance, and At Home) I can tell you that I resent not being able to link freely to my stuff. It makes it a lot harder to build a decent online portfolio.

That said, I also used to edit an online magazine when I lived in the Czech Republic, and we chose to put quite a lot of the content off limits to all but subscribers. I do think that it meant that we grew a little more slowly than other publications, but there is something to be said for the notion that 1) people don't value what they get for free and 2) you get what you pay for.

In most cases, publications' advertising and subscription revenues have not grown enough to truly support the outlay required to put up a decent website. Doing so is expensive, in terms of both staff and technology. I'm not quite sure how the Gazette does it, to be honest. They seem to be an anomaly. Certainly the GF Trib isn't giving away the store in the same way at all.

Gee Guy

Let's don't use the Trib as a model, ok? They signed us up to a special online service that gave us access to everything in the paper for 30 days, then they unilaterally (and without notice) reduced it to 7. And they also kill their links after a short time.

You could always take your blog offline, Wulfgar! ;)

Craig

Say what you want about the Guess-At-It, but they are kicking ass and taking names in the online department.

Other than getting some of the local Helena stuff from the IR, the Gazoo is my main feed.

August West

Camden Easterling's reliable. Other than that, you'll be able to catch all the sales at the grocery stores.

Ed Kemmick

Hey, can I chime in here? I think the reason the Gazette is successful is simple: We poured a lot of effort into our online offerings, produced a hell of an online product and voila!---the advertisers noticed and opened their checkbooks. I think it is suicidal to charge for access, unless you're an extremely valuable niche publication like the Wall Street Journal. Even the New York Times only dares to charge for access to a relatively small number of special features.

On the Internet, where almost everything is free, charging for access is ridiculous, especially for a newspaper. Give enough people a reason to go to your site and the advertising will follow. I'm a techno-dinosaur, but that much seems obvious to me.

Mark Tokarski

I would like to know how many on-line subscribers the Chronicle has. Damned few, I'll bet.

There is something about the Chronicle - they like to rub your face in it, putting up right wingers like Hall and FREE. Never with anyone from the left, however. They do not, they will not cross the Ellen Goodman line.

mlu

I don't follow what you mean by "right" as you use it here:

Ultimately, it comes back to the idea that the Chronicle "owns" the information, and has the right to charge you for access to it. No no no. They have every right and duty to charge you for provision of it, but not access to it. And yet, seemingly they do.

I would think that if I go to the town council meeting then write a report about it, I can do whatever I want with my report. I could sell it to you, if you would buy it. I could put it on line for a day and charge you to read it.

You seem to be saying I'm obliged to put it online and leave it there forever. Which seems goofy to me.

Where am I going wrong?

Wulfgar
You seem to be saying I'm obliged to put it online and leave it there forever.

I really wonder where you get this. I haven't claimed that anyone was obliged to do anything of the sort. I could go to the same meeting and write a fantasy report of how the meeting was overrun by zombies, who were fought off by the mayor with a steno pad. I could charge for that too ... if anyone would pay. There's no obligation implied.

BUT, the news and events of what actually happened are just that, news and events. Someone writing about them does not own them. I could probably head across the street and find someone who was there and ask them about the meeting. No charge involved. Ultimately what you describe is charging me for the convenience of presentation, and I agree, that has costs and value. But you aren't charging for the information. That's out there, regardless of your prose.

What the Comical is attempting to do is control access to the news itself, instead of merely charging for the convenience of their presentation. They wish to position themselves into being the "go-to" place for the news by forcing the issue with protectionist tactics. That's a bad business model, one I don't have to support. No obligation necessary, just the free-market at work.

As I indicated, I'm a blogger, and it has value to me if the story remains accessible and linkable. I, and I presume Jeff and others, would pay for that. But we haven't been given the option. That's just simply a bad choice on the Comical's part.

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