Dave Morgan on Paid Content

Am I the only veteran of online publishing to urge newspaper publishers to resist the seductive but devastating temptation to convert their sites from free to paid access? Not by a longshot. The latest to weigh in is Dave Morgan, founder of TACODA and Real Media and form director of new media ventures for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

Dave today published a column entitled Newspaper Publishers: Don’t Make a Bad Situation Worse, Part 1 at ClickZ.com:

    Some industries just can’t get out of their own way.

    I’ve been close to the newspaper industry for a long time. I got my start in this industry selling online newspapers ads, back in the early ’90s. I’ve developed and sold ad servers. I currently count many newspapers among my company’s customers.

    Over the years, I’ve stayed in the loop on some internal developments within a few of the larger U.S. newspaper companies. I’m respectful of my access, but some of what I hear lately has me very worried.

    They’re about to shoot themselves in the foot… again.

    Several large U.S. newspaper companies are giving the circulation marketing departments control of their Web sites. Yes, giving the site to a department stuck in the ’80s, allowing them to shut down free access to content in favor of paid subscriptions.

    Talk like this has been going on for years. Yet now, there’s a lot of momentum behind this plan at some very large companies. Many circulation departments will take over their companies’ Web sites.

    Why now? Talk of Web sites cannibalizing print circulation in the newspaper industry has been debated for years. The answer can be expressed in three words: deflection, fear, and greed.

Read his column to see what deflection, fear, and greed.

One Reply to “Dave Morgan on Paid Content”

  1. Add this nugget to your plea and Dave Morgan’s:
    We already know that newspapers have lost tomorrow’s audiences, but newspaper Web site publishers might have lost them as well, according to OPA’s Ethnographic Study of 18 to 34 year olds.

    This key group are online ALL the time and are there primarily for news and information. Television is for entertainment, escape and as accompaniment to wireless Web surfing. Radio is for news, traffic, weather and music. Magazines are “for my interests.” Newspapers? With the usual exceptions, they are nowhere to be found.

    How is asking online newspaper readers to pay for content going to build audiences over the long haul? Keep it free and make the experience RELEVANT to the audience you need for tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that! Advertisers are fleeing other media and coming our way. Do NOT limit your opportunity to sell them by cutting your audience to the bone.

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