According to a report in the Boston Herald this morning, you will soon have to pay in order to read The Boston Globe and Boston.com online.
There have been a lot of rumblings recently that more and more newspapers and news outlets are going to attempt to raise their falling fortunes by limiting access to their online work and charging readers a fee to access and read it. An Associated Press (another news agency looking to get more protective of their content) article this morning reports that News Corp.’s newspapers will also soon be charging for content.
While I can see that their logic in not wishing to keep giving away their content and work for free, I have my doubts as to whether this is going to be successful. The AP article above has Rupert Murdoch pointing to the Wall Street Journal and WSJ.com as a successful model for paid content that the rest of News Corp. will be trying to emulate.
I’d say there’s a bit of a difference between the content of the WSJ and The New York Post, another News Corp. outlet. You need to have content that’s worth paying for. If you don’t buy the paper are you going to pay for the privilege of reading Dan Shaughnessy’s latest?
What I will be interested in seeing, should this come to pass, is whether all of Boston.com will be a pay site, or if you’re only going to be charged to read items that appear in the paper edition of the Globe. Will we have to pay to read Reiss’s Pieces? Chad Finn? Are you going to pay to read Boston Dirt Dogs?
Obviously, this will all have an impact on what I’m doing here at BSMW. Should I bother to put together links to all the newspaper stories if only say, 10% of the readers here can actually get to them? Do I need to start recapping articles in more detail, rather than posting the links? That might cause issues, if I pass along for free information that a reporter has gathered and his website is charging a fee for access to. Will the traditional morning links just become obsolete?
Non-Newspaper related sites like WEEI.com, NESN.com and Comcast SportsNet could see their online content gain more traffic, assuming they remain free of charge to access. Team sites, like RedSox.com, Patriots.com and Celtics.com, which are already producing their own coverage and content, would also seemingly benefit should the local newspapers decide to start charging for content. Free, independent sites like CelticsBlog.com, PatriotsDaily.com and messageboards like the Sons Of Sam Horn and PatsFans.com would also likely benefit from increased traffic as fans go to get their fix of information and sports talk.
Is what The Boston Globe is producing, specifically on the sports side, since that’s what we’re dealing with here, so exclusive and valuable that readers are going to pay, in this economy, to be able to read it, when they can get most of the same information for free from the above sources? I might consider paying something just for Reiss’s Pieces updates, but not a whole lot.
Much will depend on the price. If it were say, $19.99 for a year, people might go for that. Make that $19.99 a month, or a week, I don’t think so. Will they continue to fill the space with ads in addition to the subscription charge? Will they lower the cost of the print edition?
To me, there’s also a difference between news and sports. Most people saw the game last night, and know what happened. Most people did not see the latest business deal or homicide, or see MBTA GM Daniel A. Grabauskas resigning. Would they consider charging for news coverage, but not sports? Can they be that creative?
An article on News Futurist – Newspapers: 180 years of not charging for content makes the case that newspapers haven’t actually charged for content since the 1830′s and it’s not really practical to start doing it now.
Lately, I’ve been reading a great blog - The Future of Journalism on Salon.com, written by King Kaufman, who has done a lot of sports writing, and Katharine Mieszkowski. They’ve written quite a bit on this topic, as well as the other issues facing newspapers and online journalism these days.
Update, Friday PM: – Here’s an AP story on the matter: Boston Globe ponders charges for online content
Two questions for you, the sports news consumer:
- Will you pay to read newspapers online, or will you look elsewhere for your sports news and updates?
- What should I do mornings at BSMW, if a subscription to the newspaper sites is needed to access the links?