Yes, You're So Much Better Off When Fewer People Read Your Paper

from the just-ignore-us dept

There’s just something about the internet that newspapers just can’t figure out, despite all their supposed efforts. The latest gold star goes to the American City group of business journals, which are this week hiding all their online content from everybody but print subscribers. Once again, newspapers’ online traffic allergy rears its head, as the papers don’t so much block off readers, but block themselves off from a potential audience. This plan is amazing only in how poorly thought out it is — never mind using a paywall, but there’s apparently no way to get an online-only subscription, or an easy way to follow news outside a reader’s home market. For newspapers to succeed in the new media environment, the answer isn’t to draw back into their cave and try to force people into reading a hard copy, it’s using the web as a new platform to extend the audience for their work beyond just those hard-copy readers.

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Comments on “Yes, You're So Much Better Off When Fewer People Read Your Paper”

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Sanguine Dream says:

So much for...

all those degrees in business. Why not have print-only and web-only subscriptions so you can get more readers? That way you get the people that dont feel like sitting on the couch to read the paper at night and the people that want to sit at their PC to catch up on the lastest? You would think that for all the money these people spend on those business degrees they could figure out something so simple instead of trying to force customers to do what they want. I’d much rather pay someone that’s gonna give me exactly what I want (or as close to exactly as possible) than someone that’s trying to force me to pay for what they want me to have.

This is why people are raising such a big fuss over the RIAA.

Neil Young says:

Re: So much for...

This is the same reasoning other newspapers such as WSJ empoly in not offering a low cost weekend only option.

Once these smart business people of your referece figure out that there are interested buyers for such a product it might occur to them: 1) Printing presses do not need to sit idle on the weekend 2) Get to an audience that may not be able to read the paper during the week 3) Ad revenue which pays for most of the newspaper cost will go up.

I guess that I should put this in the newspaper as those types of people surely do not read such commentary.

I, for one says:

You think that's bad?

Here in the UK we have a bank called Barclays. When they joined the “internet revolution” and became “pioneers of online banking” their web page used to say “Closed. Website open Mon-Fri 09:00 – 18:00”

I still have a screenshot of this I took in the late 1990s, I think it will be valuable one day.

Remember, there are still some people on this planet, people who work in high positions, who don’t even remotely understand what the internet is or does. There’s no hope that they will ever be educated beyond the point they have reached in life and it’s going to take 20 more years for them die out.

Don Gray says:

From A link from TFA:

Henninger said only print edition subscribers will have immediate access to print edition content, and they will be asked to go through a quick online registration process to participate. Subscribers may go to The Business Journal’s Web site at to sign up for the new service.

The current content will not be made available to nonsubscribers for 30 days after publication. Nonsubscribers will be able to view only the headline and first paragraph of print edition stories.

All visitors to The Business Journal site will continue to be able to access content such as daily local business news, industry journals, Sales Power and other Web features.

Nonprint subscribers still will be able to search online archives and to receive all e-mail products such as Daily Updates, which are delivered every business day with headlines of latest Web stories from The Phoenix Business Journal’s news staff.

I agree that it’s still extremely stupid, just maybe not so entirely positively stupid as the TechDirt article made it seem.

News Junkie says:

How dumb is that?

It is so much more efficient to deliver the content online. I don’t want tons of paper to be delivered to me only to be taken away again.

But I have to say that the current design of newspaper sites is generally very poor. Some have become terribly overcrowded with videos and pop-out ads that almost totally obscure the content.

arrg says:

That's interesting

Because our local paper just started doing that very thing. They put up most of their content free of charge but if it’s a story they think people will pay for they put it behind a pay wall. I just read what I can and move on, anything of any real interest I can get from other sources. I do find it annoying, almost to the point of not wanting to read their stuff at all.

mewcomm says:

Dead Economists knew way more than techdirt respon

I am always amused by the self professed experts that respond on TechDirt. Their vision of the truth is often indignant, and almost never supported with credible data.

The “facts” are these.

Many print media organizations have found revenue in decline.

Some Print media organizations wiith VERY Savvy e- Business executives have begun to look for solutions to this drop in revenue. ( The best example is the excellent “pay” service Times Select on the NY Times site.)

Some of these print media organizations will continue to experiment with business models to find the right mix for their strategic vision and valuation of their product.

These are economic issues. Not techincal or net based. Economics is an arena that very very few techies understand or have studied. Certainly they do not demonstrate knowledge of economics in their posts. (This is not a fact but one need not be an empiricist to see it.)

The good news is that these companies will continue to “experiment” until they find out what works.

From Karl Marx, to Thornstein Veblen, from Adam Smith and David Ricardo to Lord Keynes and Milton Friedman there are many ways that this will play out. I suggest to you that the aforementioned economists all of whom lived in the Pre-InterNet era had a better grasp of these issues than the techdirt repondents who proclaim to know the answers.


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