Casper Star-Tribune Now Charging for Trib.com Online News
In his Sunday column, Casper Star-Tribune Editor Chad Baldwin told the newspaper's readership that the online publication will require payment after 15 visits to the Trib.com website.
Baldwin said the digital revolution was responsible for the $6.95-a-month fee for unlimited access to the articles ($2.95 monthly for print subscribers).
People who obtain their news via Internet are used to getting the information for free. But we believe trib.com has become a product of significant value, and it’s not asking too much to have its regular users contribute to the expense of making it happen.
While access to trib.com for our most active users won’t be free, it’ll still be a pretty darned good deal: The monthly cost for print subscribers will equal the average cost of a trip to Starbucks. For those who aren’t print subscribers, it’ll cost the same as two trips to Starbucks."
Directly from that digital revolution comes the term paywall, which Baldwin never uses in his column, but is the new term for a newspaper charging online viewers to read its content.
When The New York Times introduced a fee for its online content in March, the Internet soon introduced methods to get around the paywall. The TimesSelect online subscription to its columnists was set up with a much more secure site, and it lasted just two years, from September 2005 to 2007.
Wall Street Journal Columnist James Taranto suggested how easy it was to get around The Times' paywall is on purpose, the publisher taking a possible lesson from TimesSelect. The Wall Street Journal is another newspaper that charges for online content.
News media is changing. Newspapers were once promising enterprise for investors with good profit margins, taking the things that were happening anyway and turning those events into an advertizing platform. Yet, each new form of media, radio, television, now the Internet, has required a share in the information market.
The Casper Star-Tribune, as is all news media, is now working in a digital environment, and the transition from the old model of serving up the news once or twice a day has already been replaced by an electronic, on-demand news cycle, but the advertising revenues haven't caught up.
The "paywall" decision comes on the heels of recent financial difficulties with the Trib's owner, Lee Enterprises, as they attempt to reorganize roughly one billion dollars in debt, in order to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection.
Trib.com visitors are mixed in their reaction to the online subscription, according to comments on their website.
True, not all of the comments made about the change have been negative and there will certainly be a base of users who are more than willing to pay for local, state and national news from Trib.com, but the same could be said of the Star-Tribune's and other newspapers' print subscriber base over the years, and the result of that trend is evident on street corners and front porches all over the country.
While our printed product remains the heart of our business and still enjoys wide distribution in our big state, more and more people around Wyoming and beyond are getting Star-Tribune news, advertising and other information through digital means: our website, trib.com; our mobile site, m.trib.com; and our mobile apps."
In a Thursday call to the newspaper, the Casper Star-Tribune said that Publisher Nathan Bekke would be available for comment on Monday.
Leave a comment below and tell us what you think about the Star-Tribune's decision to begin paying for online news.