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.