I’m tempted to insult those who read the CSBJ Daily or Web site but don’t pay for it, I’m tempted to label them with the disparaging term “freeloader.”
But if they deserve to be disparaged, what about me?
Yes, they’ve been reading the CSBJ for free for years, but the only reason they can do it is that I’ve been giving it away.
If they really are freeloaders, what does that make me?
Stupid, perhaps? But I’m wising up, along with the rest of the newspaper industry.
I’d like to think that newspaper people are pretty smart.
I’d like to think that newspaper reporting is essential to a thriving community, and like to think that it is as important today as it was when our nation’s forefathers decided to protect it under the Bill of Rights a couple hundred years ago.
So, why give away good journalism away for free?
Quality journalism comes at a cost. It’s expensive to produce a newspaper, reporting is time intensive, the creative talent needed is extensive, and the printing and ink are just plain expensive.
Figuring out how to financially support newspapers has always been difficult, and now that readers are migrating to the Web, it’s even more of a challenge.
Hey, I’m not blaming those who opted for the freebie. I’m the one who gave the paper away online, and if you took it, it was only because I invited you to.
I thought, along with most of the rest of the nation’s newspaper executives, that I needed to accumulate soaring numbers of page views on the CSBJ Web site so the advertising department could sell dazzling banner and medallion ads for a fraction of the price of traditional run-of-paper ads.
The Rocky Mountain News, the paper, you might recall, that folded last year after more than 100 years of publication, plunged headfirst into the online maelstrom equipping reporters with video cameras.
Last week, I attended the Alliance of Area Business Publications publishers conference in New Orleans. Business journal publishers had much discussion about the free versus paid online business model.
Sister papers to the CSBJ on Long Island and in New Orleans have locked down their very aggressive Web sites, allowing only paying subscribers to view and read content… and page views have not substantially dropped in those papers.
The New York Times is going to a paid online model, and the Wall Street Journal has had various paid areas for several years.
Thus far, big-time companies and firms are unwilling to pay print-advertising prices for similar ads on the Web, so those page views, while welcome, aren’t equating to big profits.
Less-sophisticated advertisers don’t always understand all that Internet lingo, and some of them don’t even have a Web presence.
There is no doubt that the future of newspapers must include the Internet but doggone it, people need to pay to get the valuable information newspapers provide.
You know that free CSBJ Daily e-mail that comes from the hardworking newsroom every business day? One business journal from another city will be charging for it. Three to five bucks a month will be the going rate for the daily e-mail; don’t pay it, and the information switch gets turned off.
Yes, in the not-too-distant future, CSBJ.com will be going to the paid online model. Good journalism can’t keep happening if there isn’t anyone to pay for it.
Some of you have noticed the CSBJ Insider section at CSBJ.com.
This is our first step toward a paid online model.
This section has premium content available only to paid subscribers.
Pay subscriber model media outlets should rally across the country and start locking down their Web sites.
Who’s with me?
Will well-heeled newspaper subscribers become part of the knowledgeable elite? Possibly, but I don’t care.
I am sure there are some that disagree. Subscribers and freeloaders alike can respond online at www.csbj.com. After all, it was my fault.
But if you are a freeloader, hurry. You may soon have to pay to comment.
Lon Matejczyk is the publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.