Is Online Registration For News A Ploy To Make Online News Look Bad?

from the shortsighted,-as-usual dept

These days, I very rarely agree with anything written by John C. Dvorak, who seems to be spending his time not really understanding what’s happening in technology. However, his latest column has an interesting theory. We’ve been talking a lot about how many newspapers have a backwards thinking policy requiring registration just to read the same AP and Reuters stories everyone else has. The public claim is that they’re doing this to give their advertisers more data about their visitors, but the amount of dirty data that goes into these databases suggests that doesn’t make much sense — and could get them in legal trouble. Others point out that online editions are really doing this to get email for the sake of selling their mailing lists to marketing spammers, which does make some sense, though isn’t a particularly well thought-out strategy for long term success. Dvorak’s take, however, is that newspapers are doing this to keep people out on purpose. The idea is that newspapers want to play down their online operations, to show that their paper editions are still much more important. He believes they don’t want the online editions to be profitable, as that would mean serious changes for their business. If true, this is an incredibly stupid position, basically trying to convince themselves that news isn’t moving online when it really is. It’s even worse than just not believing what’s happening — it’s working to screw up the data they use themselves in figuring out what’s happening. Honestly, though, this seems unlikely. It would involve too much thought. It seems, more likely, that the push towards online registration is from newspapers who haven’t really thought the issues through, but who think this will somehow pay off.

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