Thursday, December 13, 2007

Delaware State News: Off-Line

Independent Newspapers, Inc., wants me to pay $145 a year to view the contents of the Delaware State News on-line. Up until today, INI had offered a limited selection of local news stories in an ad-heavy, if not terribly exciting, web 1.0 format.

No longer.

This morning, their old "news" link led to a statement that one can now read the ENTIRE newspaper on-line. If one subscribes. And that some local news will still be included in their Newszap forums.

I didn't see any news in the forums, so I sent an e-mail to the auto-contact link they have. Here's what I got back (in part):
Thanks for your email. To be honest with you, we reached the conclusion that we could no longer give away our newspaper content for free. We are proud of the work our staff members are doing and believe we’re making a difference for thousands of people every day.

We hope you will consider purchasing an e-Subscription, which will give you every page of every edition of the newspaper in an easy-to-read format and with full search capabilities. To make this option more attractive, we have an introductory offer of 2 years for the price of 1, which we think is a great deal!
I think it's a form e-mail. I sent my question in to two separate contact links and got the same e-mail back each time. I followed the link they sent and, after a bit of searching, and working my way through a name and address data collection page (Harrington J. Millworthy, IV, at your service), but eventually I found the Subscription Rates page (above left).

I guess that 2-fer offer means I could get two years of the e-paper for $145. That's very generous, but still probably not of interest to me.

As part of my job, I scan a variety of news sources for items related to land-use planning and to geospatial data uses. Until now, the State News has been one of those sources. But given the low volume of news I usually found, I don't know that it is worth it to subscribe to an online version of the printed paper. Someone who gets that paper the old fashioned way is likely to let us know if there is ever anything worth looking at.

I don't think this change will do the State news much good. The News Journal offers a relatively complete edition on-line each day. I think they have too many ads, but understand they have to pay the bills. The Cape Gazette also offers a paid "full content" version but does post the main news of each week for free.

The New York Times tried a pay-only premium portion of their site for a while, but scrapped that plan this fall (remember Times Select?). In part, I think, they ended Times Select because people simply ignored the content that they would have had to pay to see. As a result, no one referred to it. No one linked to it. It ceased to be a main part of the discussion.

So, for now at least, I say so-long to on-line content from the Delaware State News.

8 comments:

Dave Burris said...

Wall Street Journal is going from paid to free soon, too.

What is the DSN thinking?

jason330 said...

If the online paper was not so terrible for so long they might have an outside shot at getting subscribers. As of the today the over/under betting line is:

75 paid subscribers.

(and all of those will be from the State of Delware.)

Nancy Willing said...

Your job description precludes you from excluding one of the best political reporting we have in this state.

I say since your $145 2-fer would be my tax money, I'd say well spent.

Mike Mahaffie said...

I see your point Nancy. And, it probably will be the case that my office, as an office, will subscribe. But that decision is above my head. Were it only up to me, probably not. And I wanted to highlight what I see as foolishness by the INI people.

Also, not wishing to start an argument but truly curious, who do you think is doing such great political reporting?

Nancy said...

Actually the guy who was superb has left, Joe R. (can't recall full last name).
I just cringe when any fourth estate door is closed.
NCC's president Paul Clark just led the charge to stop funding county information publication in the one newspaper service that even remotely adequately covered county affairs, The Community News.
The major loss to this little paper that could is a travesty.
Totally sucks. SUCKS! (sorry for yelling). It may be saving the county some money but with Clark, I always have to wonder. He is compromised at every step with his wife's full partnership at Saul Ewing. He has had many ethics violations complaints entered against him to date. AND the county does not provide much information to the public on their own on what goes on in their committee work.

Nancy Willing said...

BTW, Dave is correct and the NYT also just opened its online for free reading of the entire paper's content. I say DSN should concentrate on developing online ads and get with the program.

Matt Mahaffie said...

I'll bet they have been losing hard copy subscribers at a pretty good clip. The great irony is that free internet news hurts the bottom line for these little papers, so they try online subscriptions to make up for the lost hard copy subscriber revenue. The next step is when they cut news staff, which degrades the underlying product, and their reputation and goodwill in the community, and causes them to lose still more subscribers, Print and online.

Anonymous said...

I was googling around for current info on the circulation status of the DSN when I came upon your blog. I see the Daily Banner in Cambridge, Md., which is owned by INI also, has gone from a daily to a twice-weekly pub. I worked at DSN from early 2006 to April of this year in the layout department until I was the latest person fired (they were not truthful about the reasons, either!)-when I started, there were 5 people employed in layout; when I left there were only 2. In only 2 years, it was unbelievable how many people I saw come and go from there. There were some employees that were still dedicated and professional, but not many. Being fired caused me to move from Delaware, where I lived for 13 years, back to Pa., where I grew up. I hope the DSN goes under-they treat their employees like dirt. I sure wouldn't pay $145 dollars to access DSN online!

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