Post-Star is starting a pay wall

post-star front page 2012-04-30The Post-Star announced today that it will start charging readers for online content this week.

The paper is using a model similar to the one used by the New York Times. Readers will get 15 free "page views" (we wonder if that's page views or stories) per month. After that, you'll need a paid subscription -- "non-subscribers will not be able to click on headlines to view stories." The paper is charging print subscribers $1.95 per month for online access -- it will be $6.50 per month readers for everyone else.

The Post-Star is owned by Lee Enterprises, which is switching most of its papers over to a paywall. Lee filed for bankruptcy last year (the re-organization kind) in order to re-finance $1 billion in debt. The chain's CEO just got a $500k bonus for pulling off the re-fi. [St. Louis Post-Disptach] [Thomson Reuters] [Romenesko]

The Post-Star recently laid off a trio of reporters, and appears to be pulling back from covering Saratoga Springs. [Adirondack Almanack]

The highest profile pay wall experiment has been New York Times, which appears to be doing OK with it. The Boston Globe has been experimenting with one. The Wall Street Journal has charged for access for what seems like forever now. And, of course, locally the Daily Gazette also has a pay wall (yes, we know, you don't like it when we link to their stories). [CJR]

Why's this happening?

Revenue from print (the actual paper) has been declining significantly at most newspapers -- and the revenue from digital isn't filling the gap. Online is growing -- but the related ad revenue isn't comparable (oft quoted saying: "trading paper dollars for digital dimes"). Newspapers have made multiple rounds of cuts over the last decade in an attempt to maintain profitability. But at this point, many newspapers have been cut to the bone. So now they're looking for other revenue streams -- whether it's mobile/tablet apps, pay walls, whatever.

It's probably over dramatic to say newspapers are in a life and death situation. Many newspapers aren't going anywhere. But if they can't get their finances straightened out, it will mean significant changes to what we've all come to expect from them in terms of coverage. Public meetings going un-covered, leads not followed, issues not watchdogged -- all that stuff is already happening. And unless things change, it will probably get worse.

photo: Post-Star E-Edition

Comments

Good luck. In 2012 "pay wall" tends to translate to "go get your news elsewhere, chump" to most people.

The Post-Star has been one of the best places to get news about Saratoga, since our local paper is missing in action. So I am disappointed about both bits of news: the paywall, and the reduced Saratoga coverage.

The New York Times and WSJ can afford to charge for content because they have very deep content that's worth the money. Also, I bet a high percentage of their online readers are physical newspaper subscribers who get it for free. (Do you have any stats on this?)

But for smaller local pubs, putting up a paywall instead of trying to run quality articles that attract readers and in return advertisers seems penny wise and pound foolish. It's like a bus company that raises prices and cuts routes because it doesn't have enough riders. Self-fulfilling prophecy for failure.

I'm looking forward to the story detailing the ending of that paper. It's only a matter of time. There's always free news content available, be it online of over the air. Newspapers that evolve will survive, those that don't will die.

The Post-Star is a struggling newspaper. They seem to be taking a very hard right editorial approach, that will mean that they will not be getting my money. Specifically, they are passionately anti APA, and anti conservationist. To me, these points can be argued in a civil manner, but a newspaper needs to present all sides of a story to maintain a sense of journalistic credibility. What will be missed are the local crime stories, car crashes, etc. Where will we get that?

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Albany now has a better sense of how many vacant buildings it has -- and a common starting point for taking on the problem

What's been clear: The city of Albany has a lot of vacant buildings. What's not been clear: Exactly which buildings are vacant, and what's the... (more)

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats + The Head and the Heart at Brewery Ommegang

Another show this summer at Brewery Ommegang: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats + The Head and the Heart on June 5. Tickets go on... (more)

The Decemberists at MASS MoCA

The Decemberists are set to play a show at MASS MoCA June 15. Tickets go on sale this Friday, January 19 -- they're $45 ahead... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the Van Rensselaer Skating Park, the old burying grounds, killed by... (more)

More simple joys of a snowy day

We get actual winter in this part of the world. It's cold. It snows. (Sometimes it snow a lot.) And this time of year can... (more)