Interesting piece from Gweipo about newspapers:
I've been subjected to a barrage of emails of late by the IHT. And the Wall street journal. And the NYT. [..] Why did I resist? A few main reasons. I just hate all that paper coming into the house - even if I'm now living in an area that professes to recycle and even will reward me for doing so through their "Grin" Scheme. (Honest, they don't have to, my guilt to the environment is enough to keep me recycling forever and forever amen). Then there is that thing of other waste - as in, I subscribe, but some weeks I'll read the paper every day, and sometimes weeks on end go by with the paper piling up, in it's little plastic bag against the rain (double guilt, double waste) unopened until I separate the paper and the plastic and throw them all out. And finally the fact that it's available online and on air. Oh, and they don't have suduko (the saving grace of the SCMP - honest, ask any expat wife, they all start with that section). And their comics are pathetic - old fashioned, boring and irrelevant to an international audience.
You see, the best thing about my IHT subscription to be honest, was unlimited access to the NYT. And, in the days that I didn't get to read the newspaper, I could skim through my daily email from the NYT and click on the articles that were interesting. Now, I can still do that. I'm limited to 10 articles a month - but, often that's enough. And it's a kind of rationing - do I really like that journalist enough to click through or is it going to be a same old same old?
The article generated a response from Joyce Hor-Chung Lau, an editor at the International Herald Tribune (writing in a personal capacity):
I do pay for online content -- I feel responsible to do so. One pet peeve are people (not you) who say, "I love your paper, but I get annoyed when I get blocked after 10 articles." I want to shake them and ask why they expect content to come for free? And these are not poor people -- mostly HK professionals. One was my dentist. It was hard for me to retort, w/ the metal instruments in my mouth. But I wanted to ask him if he had qualms about asking me to pay for my dental care!
It would be nice if the media industry made it easier to buy a la carte articles. Often, I see one article I'd like to read -- and would be happy to pay a few bucks if I could click one PayPal button. But then I'm asked to buy a whole year's subscription or have to fill in some form, and I give up.
Yes, the ‘micro payments’ model ought to work, but how much would people pay per article? Would it be worth collecting the money?
It’s interesting that the SCMP has stuck with charging for its website for so many years, whilst other papers have either stayed free or have tried different approaches to charging, usually without much success. SCMP.com now allows access to a certain number of articles free of charge (the same as the New York Times and the Financial Times, but unlike The Times) and the website is much better than before. Unfortunately the content (of the newspaper and website) is getting worse - and reduced revenue must be one reason.
People may be reluctant to pay for web access, but apparently they will pay for content on iPad and Kindle. I do. I happily pay about US$0.60 per day for The Guardian on the Kindle, but I hated their iPad app. The Kindle experience is less than ideal for magazines, but at little more than US$1 per week (each) for The Spectator and the New Statesman I’m not complaining. The question is whether this will be enough to save newspapers and magazines.