Talking with readers about online subscriptions, Part 2
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have responded to a few dozen notes from readers since we started our current online subscription plan in August. I usually don’t hear back from people. But I would say that of those who did reply, 90 percent of them were polite, pleasant and persuaded to try a subscription.
In one case, a reader noted that while he lived in York, Pa., and subscribed to our newspaper, he was being asked to pay for online access to our news. Meanwhile, he could read the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post for free.
“Sorry, it’s not going to work with this reader!!” he wrote. That was on Aug. 17.
I got back to him that day with this response:
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter. Your feedback is important to us.
I do not know what the future holds for the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post, but I do know that our decision to change this business model was based in part on ensuring that we do not go the way of the Baltimore Sun, which, due to severe budget cuts, is a shadow of its former self. We have served the people of York County longer than almost any other daily newspaper in America, and we intend to adjust with the times so that we can be here for many, many years to come.
But today’s media world is all about options. And if subscribing to home delivery works best for you, I am glad that we will be able to continue to provide that service. Online, I am sure that we can offer you plenty for just $1.99 a month more, if you so choose. But our focus in print and online will be almost exclusively on York County, so I cannot say that we can give you what you’ll get from Baltimore and Washington. I’ll let them have the nation and the world. But they will never be able to offer the level of coverage of York County that the Daily Record and ydr.com can.
Our challenge will be to offer an online experience worth paying for. You and the rest of our readers will ultimately be the judges of our success. I am very interested in what these changes will mean to our readers over time, so I invite you to stay in touch with me during this transition. I will always be happy to discuss this with you, if you’d like.
Mostly, I’d like to thank you for your patronage. Whether it is in print or online, everything we do in this newsroom is designed to serve our community.
In September, the Baltimore Sun launched an online subscription plan similar to ours.
And in October, I received this update from that reader:
“Randy: As follow-up to our previous discussion about paying for website access, I thought you would like to know that the Balt. Sun has started the same program as your newspaper. I guess it’s going to be the way of the world and I’ll just have to get used to it. Regards.”