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, Monster.com, 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.