The Independent

In a feed, there is an excerpt from The Independent Leader column about what Blair said to Murdoch (Guardian link). Clicking the Indy link, I find that I can only see part of the column, and for the other 459 words I have to pay £1.00 – I can buy the entire paper for that. But I go looking and for one years full access to the newspaper’s online activities, I have to pay £80.00 That seems a high value to place on something which is in copious supply on the net – News. A Google for ‘News’ produces 4,610,000,000 results so that Independent stuff must be really good. Unfortunately, their ‘Click and Buy’ system would seem to be BugMeNot-proof which is a shame, but I wonder just how much of their news is hidden this way and how much they actually make from it – is the profit worth the running costs ?
Two things strike me:

  • That by having paying subscribers they are somehow using advertising inside those paying areas and targeting advertisers by selling the subscribers. Nothing wrong in that of course.
  • That by having subscribers they are more likely to get people to pay who agree with the views, so reducing the “signed Angry Subscriber from Tewkesbury” type complaint because complaining online is just so much easier than doing it by written letter. It’s an insulating move too. Creates a ‘cosy club’. Nothing wrong in that either.

The advertising thing – Channel 4’s E4 recently went from a paid model to a free model where they hoped increased advertsing would surpass the subscriber income revenue. While their success or not will remain guarded, it does expose the advertisers to a greater audience and isn’t that what they all want ? Surely with the Independent, a paper whose launch I remember, they have enough demographics to profile their users so what are they hoping to achieve by further redefining the audience by putting more cost in the way ? Or is it that the “Internet” must be a revenue generating part of the overall company strategy ? I really can’t see this as being aimed at overseas readers.

It’s a free country, free economy, free internet and all that, but paying for old stuff (there was an article somewhere I read about this and I don’t recall where) just seems so odd, especially in something that is not definitive. Paying to read what can otherwise be read elsewhere for free just seems odd. Especially when for £80.00 I could double my line speed 24/7 and still have change.

As an online reader of news, this sort of behaviour turns the Independent site into the footnote, the margin, the “skip if in a hurry” site.

6 thoughts on “The Independent

  1. Funny you talk about this, I just mentioned the fact the NY Times is going to take their op-ed and some feature articles out of the mix of “free”. Fifty dollars US. They are selling it as “feature rich”, with access to archives, and the ability to bookmark those archives. Interesting take you have, very much can be aplied to the NY Times as well.

  2. Um, dunno if I’m getting the wrong end of the stick, but aren’t you essentially looking to read the Independant for free? It’s a newspaper, if I want to pick up a hard copy, I have to pay for it, why should I expect it to be free online? I agree that a pound for a single article is expensive, but I don’t see a problem with the principal behind it… you say that paying to read what you can see elsewhere for free is odd, but very little in a newspaper is unique..

    I dunno, just find this post a little odd is al… :)

  3. AJ – I was querying the model, and that fact that I do not believe it can work. Instead of me turning to The Indy for news and analysis I will look elsewhere online where I know I can see the full story. That then means that OFFline I am much more likely to NOT pick up The Indy as I am unfamiliar with it. Newspapers depend on a core readership – and you get that by developing loyalties – their online behaviour does not reflect well on how I will perceive their product in the shop.
    But yeah, up to them.

  4. A few of the Irish papers charge for online use too. There are many variations on the theme. One of them (I can’t remember which) shows the front page but if you want to read “inside” then you have to have a subscription. The Belfast Telegraph allows you to read today’s paper but you have to pay for articles.

    My Dad can get around all of this. He joined the library in Strabane and if you go to the library site, enter your membership number (obtained at no charge) you can read all the UK and Irish newspapers online, including archives, without an extra subscription….sweet :)

  5. The Independant do seem to be out of step with regard to online content, compared to others.

    I was just reading an article on the BBC site about papers moving into podcasts.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4639340.stm

    There’s one by, The Guardian, The Telegraph, even The Sun. Not really being a Sun or Telegraph reader (I really don’t buy newspapers at all, I’ll come to that) I wondered if The Indy had any. A search of iTunes Music store’s podcasts revealed nothing. Odd, I looked at their website and was amazed not only there was nothing, but even for their articles you’d have to pay a £1, after a Google search I found your article. Strange how some are fully embracing the online world, and others firmly don’t.

    I suppose it’s one way of doing it. Though overall, you often wonder why newspapers/magazines have websites with content for free, that would normally cost you. MacUser UK (www.macuser.co.uk) is a website I’ve often read, and though they now have some pay for content, the news is free. http://www.macformat.co.uk/ do it differently. There site is more an advertisement to buy the mag.

    Now I doubt I’d ever really buy the magazine and as said, it’s rare I’d ever bother to buy a magazine. The problem for them is, you can just go elsewhere. Have to pay for it at one site, you just go elsewhere.

    Must be a difficult choice.

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