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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Would you pay to read the Addison Independent online?

Looky looky — the Independent's got a sleek new website, with comments on articles, and an RSS feed, and a list of online users, and polls, and forums. Publisher Angelo Lynn even has a blog, though it looks like he might be reprinting his print columns online. Not sure.

Only thing is, you can't read the entire contents of the print edition from that site. For that, you have to click here. And you have to pay. It's $5 a year for subscribers, $30 for non-subscribers.

I think there are other small Vermont papers locking up their print content behind fee walls. Personally, I think this is a bad idea. I for one would not pay each of these papers to read their stories every week. But I do read their sites on a bi-weekly basis to find out what's happening in Vermont communities. I'd like to get that information for free. But is that ripping them off somehow? Do small papers have to charge for their online content? Isn't there a better way to do it for free?

April 18, 2006 at 03:14 PM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


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Isn't that what advertising is for?

Posted by: Tanner | Apr 18, 2006 10:21:23 PM

The Vermont Guardian (VG) had already begun offering something along these lines as well.

The VG has a brief mention of it within their: Highlights from this week's Vermont Guardian (April 14 - 21, 2006).

One can find out more about it, here.

Posted by: mwb | Apr 18, 2006 10:53:18 PM

Thanks, Morgan, I knew I had seen that somewhere recently. I like the Guardian. I think they do good independent news coverage. And I like Shay a lot--he gave me my first paid journalism gig, at the Vermont Times in 1998. But I wouldn't pay to read the paper online. I don't pay now to read it. I've been picking up the "promotional" copies they scatter around at coffeeshops, and I've been reading it online.

So I guess they're not getting any money from me now, why not ask me to pony up online? I dunno. I think it's a gamble. It's like the NYT locking up their columnists behind the fee wall. You instantly make them inaccessible, and therefore irrelevant, to all the people (and bloggers) who don't want to pay to read them.

On the other hand, if the content really *is* that good, and enough Vermonters find it relevant, people will have to pay for it to stay informed.

I guess that's what they're all betting.

But my money's still on free content. There has to be another way to make money.

That said, when the technology is available, I will be willing to pay some small fee to read stories. Like, 10 cents a story, or something, with the money coming out of my little yet-to-be-invented pre-paid Pay Pal media card.

But no $30+ yearly subscriptions. I'm not there yet.

Posted by: cresmer | Apr 19, 2006 8:08:28 AM

This is a terrible idea. The Randolph Herald did this fairly recently (new stuff is behind a pay wall, after seven days it's free) and I stopped reading their paper online. I still read it in print, but now I don't read it online and I don't link to it. I'm sure it's not really a huge deal to the local papers if the blogosphere sees them or not, but there is a huge segment of the population -- a rapidly growing segment -- that interacts with online information by passing links back and forth, commenting on links, commenting on stories. Shutting off this means of getting your message out seems like a bad idea unless there is truly a bang-up revenue model there which I don't think this is.

Posted by: jessamyn | Apr 19, 2006 9:20:10 AM

Most of us read so many papers on line (or parts of them.)

I know that I'd go broke if I had to pay $5/year to every paper that I read online. I just won't pay it. Not for the NYT (and I miss Paul Krugman!) and not for the Addison Independent.

Posted by: natkinney | Apr 19, 2006 11:46:38 AM

Cathy there already is the $.10 a story payment structure. It's called micropayments. Unfortunately many places have tried it but it never took off. I think you might be the only person wanting to do something like that.

What I do think is interesting though is that the Addison Independent use Drupal -- an open source Content managment system that's free -- to run their website but they're wanting to charge for readers of the website.... hmmmm.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 19, 2006 12:32:08 PM

Yeah, I know the micropayments thing hasn't taken off, but I thought that was because the technology wasn't user-friendly enough yet. Maybe I'm wrong. Just seems like there should be a universal subscription thing, like, you pay money onto a media card through Pay Pal, and each media outlet charges you some small fee, then you replenish your card every month or six or so.

I feel like there has to be a way to compensate content-producers (like me). Otherwise the system falls apart. Maybe the micropayment model isn't that way. Just a thought.

Posted by: cresmer | Apr 19, 2006 12:45:10 PM

Jessamyn, correct me if I'm wrong but most local libraries CAN provide free access to the NYT columns on-line. And they are likely to have full on-line access to most newspapers and journals that have a subscription fee.

Most town libraries are members of the Vermont Online Library -- which gives us access to all sorts of databases that have the NYT columns (and other good stuff).

Check it out:

Posted by: natkinney | Apr 19, 2006 4:33:44 PM

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