As a business news outlet, we feel pretty good about the quality of our work. We’re pretty sure you do, too. In fact, in our surveys of readers, you’ve made it clear that you like staying informed on important issues (who wouldn’t?), and that you’re OK paying our cheap-as-dirt subscription rate of slightly more than $1.70 a week for our award-winning coverage.
Our subscribers are a loyal bunch. They typically stick with us for years. Even when we give them a chance to provide us feedback anonymously, they often end up saying a lot of nice things.
But not everyone pays for access to our news stories and columns. Sometimes, believe it or not, they toss away their guilt, go to csbj.com and catch up on the latest without so much as a thank-you.
In this day and age (yes, I’m referring to the End Times of journalism), the question that then naturally arises is: should we, in our online operation, continue simply giving away what so many seem to agree has real value in print?
With all due respect to the Gazette, the Independent and anyone else in the journalism game in this town, we’re pretty sure no one else does what we do, and certainly not with the same level of focus and consistency.
And because of that, we’ve concluded it’s only fair to ask you to start paying for our little service.
Now we all know that there are two kinds of people in the world: The fair-minded who would never dream of capitalizing off a reporter’s or editor’s labors without just compensation and … everyone else.
Subscribers to the print iteration of the Business Journal already pay to access the latest news and trends in defense contracting, tourism, real estate, politics and the many other realms we cover. We’ve decided that, starting July 30, anyone logging onto csbj.com will have to do the same.
A little hand-wringing preceded this shift. Some of us are worried that it will cost us more than a few readers. But our expectation is that the cream of the crop will remain, so there’s little to worry about.
Big fights on these questions used to break out in newsrooms in the early days of the Web. On one side: those who wanted to give it all away. On the other: those who understood the danger of enabling an ugly habit.
Information wants to be free, even demands to be free. That was (and is) the mantra of those opposed to charging readers for access. If you’re in the same business as every other guy or gal down the street, that might be the right approach. In fact, you might have little choice. But we’re not in that boat. Day in and out, week in and out, there’s very little in our daily email, on our website, or in our paper that you’ll find elsewhere.
Happily, it appears the news industry has finally settled the argument, and more outlets are beginning to erect pay walls around their online operations.
There was really no choice, because while information might want to be free, it’s also expensive. Reporters need to be paid, folks.
So we’re going to the “premium” model. That’s unwelcome news, I know, to some of you, and we certainly hope not to lose a single person.
Print subscribers won’t be asked to pay any more than they already do; it’s only those who have surfed our website for free who’ll be expected to start paying. New online subscribers will also get a copy of the paper delivered to them each week.
The good news for those unwilling or unable to buy a subscription is that access to a few areas of the site will remain free. For example, you’ll still be able to read some of the stories — though certainly not all — that we post over the course of every business day. You’ll also be able to continue reading the ever-popular, always-controversial John Hazlehurst.
But the biggest breaking stories and the contents of the paper itself will be off-limits to anyone without a subscription. That includes all our in-depth coverage of the important stories and trends shaping the market.
You’ll see a lock on anything that’s off limits to non-subscribers, and you’ll need to login or sign up to gain access to many of the site’s features. If you haven’t done so yet, you can go to http://subscribe.csbj.com to register or subscribe.
This won’t sit well with everyone, we realize. But please remember we appreciate and need your support if we’re to remain a vital source of business information in the years ahead.
Thanks for reading the Business Journal.
Allen Greenberg is the editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com or 719-329-5206.