Defending the OC Register’s Paywall

You work hard for a living, don’t you?  You give your employer 110 percent every day and they take the toils of your labor and charge a customer for it in some manner.  You might be an accountant at a manufacturer, but you can be certain that your salary and benefits are factored in to every product sold so the company covers its costs and makes money.  Now imagine that your company’s customers start getting your product or service for free?  And because the amount of money they used to earn goes down, you notice the empty cubicles and workstations and offices aeround you are empty as your employer tries to stay in business with not as much revenue coming in.  The company declares no more free lunch and finds a way to charge for what once was free, and customers revolt…actually being offended at being asked to pay.

This is the situation the OC Register finds itself in after the implementation of their paywall that provides access to paying customers and limits access to those who don’t.

The Register has a product to sell to subscribers — news.  The key word in that sentence is “subscribers.”  The guy reading over your shoulder on the bus is a freeloader who should buy his own paper.  The Register’s other product — eyeballs on the Internet and deadwood editions hitting driveways to advertisers everywhere.  Now that CraigsList,, Trulia and other sites have diminished classified advertising revenue, the Register’s new model encourages the increase in subscriptions which in turn increase its value to advertisers, but at a cost of losing online readers who don’t regularly subscribe.

I love newspapers; I get three every morning.  I don’t believe newspapers are going away, but they are changing from that newsprint edition that hits your driveway to an edition you can fire up on your tablet.  The Register has every right to put up a paywall and charge for access.  If you want local news, subscribe to the Register or any number of community weeklies they publish.  It’s called the free market that so many Republicans, Conservatives and Libertarians subscribe to over and over again.

There was a time, about 20 years ago, when we paid for content on the Internet.  AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy all charegd us by the hour. And we were hooked and gladly paid it.

Newspapers generally spend significantly more time on a newspaper story compared to a TV broadcast or radio news program.  Reading the stories, you’ll come away better informed than short stories on the same topics on local TV.  We have our share of differences with the Register, especially with columnists and opinion/editorial pieces that reflect — at best — a conservative/Libertarian/Republican slant.  The editorial desk claims a couple of “lefty” contributors, but they are the Alan Colmes to the Hard Right Hannity’s in the Register; weak lefties.  The change is a baby step in the right direction and it’s negated by the loss of the “From the Left” column which used to be posted online that was seldom updated during the critical election cycle.  Sorry fellas, but the notion your opinion pages are more diverse that the New York Times, LA Times or Wall Street Journal isn’t true.

The way to change a paper is whether or not you subscribe to it or partonize their advertisers or use the paper’s promotional products (coupons for example) that show value to advertisers.  If you want to change the paper, when the sales reps call you or email you to sell you a subscription, tell them why you have no plans to subscribe.  I have attended a few ‘reader forums” and I’m never called on for a question (wonder why).

Bu that all said, if you want to read the Register online, then buy it; Pay for the product like you expect your company’s customers will pay for the product you help produce.  The more subscriptions mean more readers. More readers means great value for advertisers and more money coming in to hire new reporters or experienced ones.  But don’t complain; the Register has every right in the free market to charge for their work and their product.



  19 comments for “Defending the OC Register’s Paywall

  1. just asking?
    April 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I would pay if they removed all the annoying ad’s, pop-up’s, pop-out’s and other drivel that clutters up page space.

    I’m ok with all these things on a “free” service, but not on one I’m paying for.

    And BTW the writing is just not very good…

    • April 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      well actually those pop ups, ads, and other things that clutter up space are what pays the bills. I’d listen to Jon & Ken more if they’d spot the live 30 second spot on the dentist that fixes black, bad and broken teeth, push-filled gums and bad breath. But guess what, that pays the bills too.

      Depending the story, the reporter, and the editor working the story, you’ll get good writing and not so good writing.

    • Pamela Robles
      April 10, 2013 at 7:55 am

      I agree that I would pay for a service if they took away the ads. You stated that perfectly.

  2. April 10, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Dan, that’s “puss-filled gums” – almost makes me puke when John says it! 😉

    And, I agree with you. Want the Register’s product? Pay for it. They’ve got some choices for you, but their product shouldn’t be free.

    Sadly, I can no longer link to some of their good stories on my blog because some of my readers won’t see them because they’re not subscribers.

    I also pay big bucks for the Wall Street Journal – print and online – simply because they consistently produce some of the best stuff I read any day.

  3. RHackett
    April 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I was not a print subscriber and I won’t be paying to read it online.

    There is very little news that I can’t find anywhere else.

    Their Op Ed’s are the usual libertarian dream world that can never exist in the “real” world and their guest columnists like Greenhut and Steyn are really pretty stale and boring. I can read the title and know immediately what is going to be said. No point in paying for it.

  4. Dan Chmielewski
    April 10, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I don’t know if the name of the business in Cunning Dental or something that sounds like it. And I always laugh when I see Filipna Dating ads pop up here. Ads pay the bills; its a model working for OC Weekly and OC Metro

  5. April 10, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I’ve been reading the OCR in some form since the early 80’s and seen its transformation into smaller formats, columns, and less and less information. True, ad space pays for production, reporters, AP/external fees, etc. but after noticing that it was 7/8’s ad and one half column “news” on every printed page – it was time to say goodbye to the print version.

    Their move on the website to make their links with no useful information in them was another straw – why not make a link headline that makes someone want to click it, not, “some person somewhere did…” During the last few years at this point I was scanning the partial headlines/links for maybe one bit of news that wasn’t on other news agencies already, only to find not much in the way of details. (the CHP log files had more information!)

    It was during this last week with the kids lost in the canyon that was the final bit in the bucket. My wife knows the family and was asking about updates – I clicked on the OCR link to see the latest and – wait – what ?!? ‘paywall for “original” content’ ?!? *sigh*

    If they were going to implement a paywall – you would think that they would have asked what a potential subscriber would like to see and put up a more diverse and rich site of links and information – not the same drivel.

    Goodbye OCR. You can go recycle yourself.

    • April 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      wait until the next wildfire; I suspect official government sites will get lots of action.

  6. pikachoo
    April 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    technically THEY get paid by advertisers for US to view now we pay to read newspaper and ads? i dont know how companies will want to advertise with them if only subscribers have access.. that’s how they make their money.. good luck ocr..

  7. just asking?
    April 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I have been a subscriber off and on for over 30 years. Switched to LAT 2 years ago, and since then I have used the OCR online service as sort of a portal to OC news stories. For details I would come here, OJ, or other OC blogs to read more. The Register ceased to be a real paper a long time ago. And I don’t just mean from my personal political viewpoint, but from a journalistic viewpoint it is wasteland.

  8. April 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    You’re both wrong. It’s PUS.

  9. April 11, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    “well actually those pop ups, ads, and other things that clutter up space are what pays the bills…”

    Wait… I thought SUBSCRIBERS were paying the bills now?

    And these replies aren’t turning up where they’re supposed to….

  10. Dan Chmielewski
    April 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    No Vern, subscribers are a small part of any papers revenue structure. classified ads were once a gold mine but its the big display ads and inserts that pay the bills

  11. April 12, 2013 at 6:42 am

    While I recognize that it is necessary for a newspaper to maintain a sufficient amount of revenue to support “good reporting,” I am puzzled at the new pricing structure.

    The Register has been offering cut-rate deals for print subscribers to stay with the publication for years. I’ve heard of discounts close to 50%. I have no problem paying a little but I think that the Register’s owners need to take a reality pill.

    The base rate for a NYTimes digital subscription starts at $15 for a four week period for unlimited access to the NYT through its website and smartphone apps. The current introductory price is $0.99.

    I can see paying $15 a month for access to the Register online, but they’re asking a dollar a day.

  12. Slade Wilson
    April 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I think $38 a month for the OC Register is a bargain. I would pay a lot more than that.

  13. April 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Chris hit the nail on the head. A lot of newspapers are going to a paywall these days. The phlegm is, OCR’s is purely implemented. And, from what I understand, there is no “on-line only” option. I don’t need another periodical cluttering up my driveway, particularly when I won’t red it. It ain’t the charge, Dan, it’s the product.

  14. Tracy
    April 30, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    With fewer eyes on those ads that “pay the bills” I can only hope that those paid advertisers renegotiate insertion orders based on fewer impressions.

    In this digital age, few can deny the requirement for print media to evolve not only to flourish, but for survival. I’m afraid in the case of the OC Register’s new digital pay wall, the glass slipper won’t quite fit, wicked stepsister.

  15. Paul
    May 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    So now I have to pay for content that’s online for free? No thanks OCR. Oh well, another paper will soon bite the dust.

Comments are closed.