Conversations about paywalls – and Uncle Billy
Email from long-time subscriber: “Why do I have to pay to read YDR online when I am on vacation?”
My response (in part): “The short answer is that there is a cost for us to provide the stories and photos that are online. Many of these stories and photos appear only online so we have to cover those costs by charging for that content.”
Subscriber response: “Thanks for the response. I think there should be a way that regular subscribers could get their usual content online while they are on vacation. I don’t need the ‘special pictures.’ Unlike Mrs Palin, I do have other options.”
My response (in part): “Here are two sources for stories in which there are no charge, designed for mobile or smart phone use: http://m.ydr.com/yorkdaily/index.htm (try it on mobile or on your desktop) and http://www.ydr.com/app (that’s a news app).”
Subscriber response: “Thanks. The first one worked on my traveling notebook. I have a second home … and spend time here. I pay for 52 weeks of news from YDR, and disagree that I should not be able to access the website as part of my subscription. I understand that you don’t want to provide free news to those who don’t pay, but… . I’m impressed that you responded, even though the substance of your response is not satisfactory. You almost have a local news monopoly, but not quite.”
Each encounter with readers is a little different.
Sometimes they understand your explanation, and we maintain the relationship we seek with our customers. Sometimes you lose that relationship. Sometimes you never know.
But it’s important that we engage readers on this issue, as conscientious journalists have done with the public for years. Indeed, this engagement is even more important on Web issues, a medium in which readers have traditionally found content at no charge.
I thought maybe the paywall had weakened our relationship with the longtime customer above. But we received one more email from this subscriber that suggests that relationship remains productive:
Subscriber: “Thank you for the Beautiful analogy of the Christmas miracle and Uncle Billy and George Bailey. I read it at 6 am and started my day off right.”
My response: (T)hanks much for your encouraging comment. Nice to know people are reading, even at 6 a.m. Christmas day!
Also of interest
For numerous posts about the ydr.com paywall and subscriptions on news media site, visit the online subscription category.
See Managing Editor Randy Parker’s column about ydr.com’s paywall: A new model for online news.