September 2, 2010 8:33:00 AM
Today, we began charging for some content on our website, cdispatch.com. This decision, and exactly how we should go about it, came after much internal discussion and debate.
Traffic to our website has nearly doubled just in the past year, averaging more than 10,000 unique visitors and 180,000 page views per week. We didn''t want to alienate that audience.
At the same time, like at virtually all newspapers, our paid subscription base is declining. We often hear how people don''t have time to read the paper, yet find time to read it online. We believe there is at least as much value in the convenience of reading timely news online as there is in reading our print edition.
We understand many people expect information on the Internet should be free. But we believe the work done by our journalists and our other employees is worth something, and offering our robust website to viewers every day comes at a cost.
We hope that we''ve struck a happy medium with our "metered" pricing plan. Content such as local mug shots, classifieds, obituaries and calendar items will remain free. We''ll charge a manageable fee, however, for the work of our reporters, editors and columnists.
Light readers, who read 10 or fewer stories a month, won''t notice the difference.
For many readers, nothing can replace a printed newspaper. At $10 a month, a subscription to The Dispatch is a value that''s hard to beat.
Our website offers a unique experience as well, with breaking news, photos and video, and interactivity between readers, to name just a few differences. We believe this is worth an extra $1.95 monthly charge for subscribers who value both.
For non-subscribers to the newspaper, we think the monthly charge of $7.95 per month isn''t too much to ask, and will help us continue our good work informing the community, and serving as an outlet for news and opinions.
We''re proud of our position as the Golden Triangle''s leading source of news and information. We work hard every day to bring you the best products possible.
A newspaper is only as strong as the community that supports it, and vice-versa. We approach this business as a collaborative enterprise, and cherish our role as "your" newspaper. We appreciate your readership and your support as we move forward into an increasingly digital future.
ckirby commented at 9/2/2010 12:17:00 PM:
Does the new pay per view access come with ads? It reminds me of the old days when tv networks first went to satellite and wanted people who had dishes to pay to see their shows. shows that came with the standard five times an hour commercials. instead of being able to up their ad rates because they had bigger viewer numbers, they scrambled their signals and decreased their viewers. Not a real good business strategy. In the tv or print business eyes are what sells. The more that look the more you charge. CNN carried a news story last week about a young guy who makes over 300K a year on ads on his youtube pages. one guy. one young guy. He doesn't charge viewers to watch his videos. the money is from ads alone. one guy. there's a lesson in there somewhere.
pimes commented at 9/2/2010 1:16:00 PM:
@ckirby I think you make some interesting points. The newspaper serves as different things for different people. Many of our print readers actually subscribe to the paper specifically for advertisements. Our inserts and coupons can save you a tremendous amount of money and our display ads announce great sales and important events. Print is also unique in that you are not forced to endure 5 commercial breaks to get to the content you want. Don't want to see a print ad? Just skip it! I think online advertising has the potential to provide savings and information that is useful to our online readers. That's something we are working toward.
ckirby commented at 9/2/2010 3:47:00 PM:
pay access has worked well in the past. Like somebody said on another comments section the adult industry has made a killing off pay to view. the problem's the content has to justify the expense in people's minds. If say the dispatch had agreements with local places for cents or dollars off coupons people could print from the pay access pages then it might make it worth people's time and money. In their minds. That's where the scales will be. If a person spent $7.95 but could print coupons that saved them $2 or $3 a week, then they come out ahead. That's how my friends decide if somethings worth the money.
Also like was said elsewhere the news business is esp hard. news is news and we all know there's a tv station and another paper in town. I'd personally pay to see something interesting that neither of the other two had. That's where creativity comes in. that's what the youtube guy figured out that he's good at. people like his stuff and the more money he makes the more he invests in making better stuff. I've seen some of it and he's got some professional looking things going on now. not bad for a self made business.
the dispatch might have to go head to head with the tv station and the other paper in places and things they've been doing longer or differently. it might take an adjustment but it might be worth looking into. the video thing is interesting but it puts the dispatch at odds with wcbi. if you're willing to go there then maybe that'd be another avenue to try. in pay to view content management is crucial. You have to be ready to think out of the box no matter how far fetched the idea might sound. just a thought.
citizen commented at 9/7/2010 1:04:00 AM:
will I have to pay a fee to comment?
1. Our View: Turnage leads assault on public's right to open government DISPATCH EDITORIALS
2. Lynn Spruill: The march LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Ask Rufus: A tale of two boxers in Columbus LOCAL COLUMNS
4. Voice of the people: Jimmy Bonner LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
5. Susan Estrich: Forty-two years later NATIONAL COLUMNS