By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

An uncomfortable reality

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette shows that charging for online access is no way to build a Web site — but that it may very well be an effective way of preserving the print edition. (Via @howardowens.)

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  1. Michael Corcoran

    This was a facinating piece of news.

    I can relate. I do not make a lot of money, and sometimes, when I am looking to buy a print product — newspaper, magazine, academic journal — a voice in my head says: “save that money for food, drinks, rent, etc …” And, in fact, the one newspaper I do subscribe to in print is the Financial Times, which I do not feel guilty paying for, because I know it is my only sure way to read this quality news product.

    That said, my major disagreement here has nothing to do with economics, but civics. The truth is, the populus is already ill-informed on a lot of key issues and charging for access to quality information may add to this problem, especially among people with little income, who tend to be the most underepresented in our government.

    I don’t have the answers here. We need to fund quality journalism and we need people of all incomes to be able to ccess quality information. It is tough, but this video was thought provoking and, based on the economics of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, they are doing something right.

  2. Laurence Kranich

    I took a look at an electronic edition of the Arkansas paper after seeing this story. They do a lot of things the old fashioned way, and maybe that has something to do with their success, too. They still print stock tables. They still have a Sunday TV magazine. They cover weddings and engagements. They have regional sections with hyper-local news. They have a ton of small classified ads which they give away to individuals for free, but I’m sure it draws readers.

    The Arkansas Democrat Gazette is owned by a family company that has bought some other properties but probably hasn’t gone out on the leveraged bank-loan limb that’s a huge problem for so many other media companies.

    By the way, it costs $15 a month to subscribe to the Arkansas paper, 7 days a week. That’s compared to $52 for the Globe. Would I take that business model over the free-lunch Internet model of most papers? You bet.

  3. Bill Toscano

    Up here in northeastern New York the trend is “Print Edition-Only” stories.

    The local paper here in Glens Falls is holding two or three stories a day off the web site, and the Albany paper did it with a big news-feature yesterday.

    The Glens Falls paper also pulled its comics off the web site.

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