Archived Story

How much is information worth?

Published 12:00am Sunday, June 2, 2013

How much is it worth to a reader to be able to access local news from virtually anywhere in the world?

That is a question with which The Tribune and, ultimately, the entire newspaper industry continues to struggle. The Internet poses a challenge as newspapers and other media try to find a balance between serving readers and giving away for free something that costs a significant amount of money to produce.

It is always an interesting one for me to ask because I hear a wide variety of answers ranging from nothing to hundreds of dollars a year.

There are countless options out there that newspapers and others have tried to use to monetize websites. These include pay walls, metered access, premium content, limited availability to nonpaying readers and many other approaches.

So, what is the correct answer? No one knows.

The reality may be that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

It was exactly one year ago today that The Tribune implemented the Google Consumer Surveys feature which requires readers to answer a couple of questions a day to access new content and a couple per story on all archives.

I still get feedback from online readers who don’t like it but, as I said at the time, it seems like a better option to ask our readers to share their opinions rather than their hard-earned money.

I still believe that.

This information isn’t linked back to individuals and Google is only interested in the aggregated results because their clients will pay to understand what the American consumer thinks.

We will continue to utilize these surveys as a way to offset expenses and justify providing access to our content for free.

Will online access to The Tribune always be free? Probably not, although no changes are imminent.

The reality is the business model for digital access may have to change at some point for The Tribune, the newspaper industry as a whole and virtually any other magazine, television station, website or media company that produces exclusive content.

Will it change in a year? Five years? 10 years? No one an say with real certainty.

So, back to the original question: What is it worth to you as a reader to be able to access local news in whatever format you prefer?

I would be very interested in your feedback. Of course this doesn’t commit anybody to anything or guarantee changes, but it could help ensure readers have a voice.

The answers could become very important in the future.

 

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.

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  • mickakers

    You know, as an afterthought, I would not mind reading the complete Tribune on-line including all the advertisements plus a subscription fee. After all, is this not what we do with print editions of magazines and newspapers? Just a thought. Times are sure changing and will continue to do so at a rapid pace.

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  • mickakers

    Geronimo; Thanks for the tip. However, it would be a difficult switch. I have been drinking Scotch for fifty years. Gotta go, my glass is empty. Take care Geronimo.

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  • Geronimo

    PS:mickakers: Switch to bourbon!! The thinking will clear up!!

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  • Geronimo

    I was a subscriber to the tribune for many , many years , the last few were too aggravating to continue. I missed deliveries and never received the paper or rebate. It became a couple times a week. Like mickakers , I would pay a subscription fee for web access , but I’m really tired of the question and answer thing , especially when it is two questions, many of which a proper answer is not listed.

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  • mickakers

    As a PS: A Newspaper is and has always been the most reliable and enjoyable source of information, even the web editions. You can enjoy and take your time in reading or rereading while sipping on a cup of coffee or glass of scotch. However, I must admit, the scotch can get you a bit confused at times.

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  • mickakers

    I sympathize with the Tribune and the Newspaper industry due to the position they are in. I personally would be willing to pay a subscription fee for web access to the Tribune just as I would be for the print edition. I also understand and accept the reality that advertising helps pay the bills and salaries. I feel the Ironton Tribune does an excellent job on their website and print edition in presenting the news, especially local. With your limited resources and staff, I don’t know how you do it. Rest assured, whatever your ultimate decision is, I will be a reader and subscriber. My compliments to you all.

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