Blowing Through The Paywalls In My Mind

Feh.   So the Seattle Times,   which had topped my previous list of newspapers without paywalls,  has announced that they will be implementing a paywall in mid-March.   It appears to me they are directly emulating the strategy the Los Angeles Times used.    I admit that I miss reading the LA Times,   but I really have mostly broken my habit of visiting that site since they began charging $3.99/week for digital access.   The Seattle Times would give me a Sunday-only home delivered dead tree paper and throw in digital access for only $3.15/week.   Which suggests to me that like their counterparts in EL Lay,  the owners of the Seattle Times just don’t understand how to create a viable business model in the Internet era.    If they offered digital access (with no dead tree paper delivery) for twenty bucks a year,  I would sign right up and consider it money well spent.    But  $13.55/month with dead trees on Sundays (which is to say $163/year) or $17.16/$206  per month/year if I don’t want any dead tress delivered to my door is simply more than I can or will pay for news and information.

While I miss the El Lay Times a bit,  I find I don’t miss the New York Times at all.    I follow a couple of their handles on Twitter,  and occasionally I do read NY Times pieces that they have tweeted.   Accessing stories from Twitter seems to completely bypass their paywall.    And an occasional story via Twitter seems to be enough for me.    I suspect when the Seattle Times goes away next month I will find myself checking out the local television news web sites  (KING, KOMO, KIRO and Q-13-FOX)  as well as the PI and Crosscut.  The Tacoma News Tribune has recently put up a paywall that limits you to 15 free views per month.    I rarely bother to take them.  The News Tribune seems to be priced a bit lower than the Times,  but it is still far more money than I can or will spend to read the news.  Here then is an updated list of free news paper web sites:

The Seattle PI

The Washington Post

The Christian Science Monitor

The Houston Chronicle

The Chicago Tribune

The Times Picayune

The Plain Dealer

The Oregonian

The Boston Herald

The Knoxville Sentinel

The Fresno Bee

The Austin Statesman

The Miami Herald

The Las Vegas Sun

The Guardian (UK)


5 comments on “Blowing Through The Paywalls In My Mind

    • Harold it appears to be the same mistake mainstream publishers made when they priced ebooks at twenty bucks or more. What I am anxious to see is to what extent #indie players will pick up newspapers’ slack, as has been the exciting case in book publishing.

  1. Thank you Alan for an interesting blog. Of course I always find what you write very insightful and informative.

    The Dallas Morning News, which I used to read religiously, went with a Paywall quite some time ago. Like you, I’ve switched to other papers as a result.

    I still will actually pay the Sunday DMNs when I pick up my Sunday coffee, but the days of free newspapers on the web are definitely fading quickly.

    • Karen, I definitely think you’re right that this is a very transformational moment for free news on the web, however what worries me is that newspaper managements who are not astute enough to puruse a possibly winning strategy of trying to get lots of people to pay a very modest amount are doomed to failure as not enough people will ever be drawn to paying a high amount, will inevitably be driven out of business and some of the best writers, editors and journalists will be out of jobs. When my local daily goes away I am going to be exploring any and all alternatives for getting written news over my computer screen. In a future article I will write about the best and worst alternatives to turn to for free news when your daily goes paywall.

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