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

The Telegram & Gazette hardens its paywall

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester is hardening its paywall. Currently you can access seven stories a month before you are asked to pay. Now the T&G, as well as other Gannett papers, is going to remove “investigative stories, political commentary, sports analysis and other content found only on” More routine stories and public-safety coverage will remain within the seven-story allotment.

Look, I get it. But what I don’t like about this is that there are those of us who might need to download two or three stories a year from various papers around the country. Last year, I actually took out a subscription to an out-of-state paper for a month — and then had to call several times so I could cancel it after the reporting project I was working on was done.

I’ve long thought papers ought to be flexible enough to charge for $1 an article or to sell day passes to people for whom a monthly digital subscription doesn’t make sense. But I’ve been told it’s not cost-effective, as it would be difficult to set up and could take away from subscription sales.

I also hope that whatever extra money the company pulls in will be used for journalism and not to service Gannett’s massive debt.

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  1. Kathleen Kulsza

    The Telegram and Gazette is a shell of itself. Two popular columnists left the paper and weren’t replaced. Several veteran staff took buyouts at the end of last year. They should be looking to gain new readers not make it harder for subscribers to read.

    • Steve Ross

      I’ve worked on several by-the-article micropayment schemes. The simple fact is that all of Gannett could have implemented a platform for a few hundred thousand dollars up-front and reap 10 or 15 cents per article plus a tad of ad revenue out of a customer price of 25 cents.

      The fact that these chain folks aren’t interested is due to one thing and one thing only: Nothing will distract them from raping their properties. Their business plans call for zero investment in new technology or in reporting quality. For the industry, it has been that way since around 2004, when it enjoyed gross profits of 20% a year. Case closed.

  2. aaronread1

    “I also hope that whatever extra money the company pulls in will be used for journalism and not to service Gannett’s massive debt.”


  3. aaronread1

    BTW Dan sounds like what you need to do is set up some burner credit card numbers; most banks still support that, I think. I remember back in 2001 or so, my Citi card had a program that ran on Windows that generated “real” random credit card numbers, linked to my account, that would expire after a week or something. It was back when people didn’t really trust making purchases on-line.

    Presumably you could also set up a Google Voice number that just blocks almost all (or all) incoming calls and use that for your contact info when doing the one-month signup.

    It’s a pain in the ass but that’s one more reason why Gannett sucks and the sooner their papers go out of business the sooner they can be replaced by something that at least has a chance to be better.

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