My favorite local newspaper has always been the Minneapolis Star & Tribune. While I have never subscribed to the “Strib”, I have read its website nearly every single day over the past 10+ years.
Apparently the days of “free loading” are over.
The Strib is now offering “digital subscriptions”. I’m not completely opposed to paying to view my local news online. In fact the Strib has one of the best newspaper websites in the country. Additionally it’s been one of the most profitable, or perhaps that should be “least-unprofitable”, thanks to the loads of advertising it’s managed to add over the years as well as sneaky hit count increasers like auto refresh of pages after a few minutes. I had figured that the continual increases in visual bombardment on the website is what allowed them to remain subscription free.
That changed a couple years ago when they introduced a pay feature for Vikings stories, this grew into a “premium” set of articles, and now this: http://www.startribune.com/help/132937963.html
When I read 99 cents per week, I considered signing up. 52 bucks a year to get local news online seemed somewhat reasonable. But then I notice that after 10 weeks it goes up to $1.99. That’s 103.48 per year.
That’s too much. That is too much when other outlets (St. Paul Pioneer Press, local TV stations, Yahoo! News) are still providing local news free of cost. There just isn’t a differentiator at the Strib to make their content worth more than free. Perhaps Sid in his glory days might have been worth paying for… and maybe if former ink-stained wretch Dan Barreiro was still on the Strib payroll it would be worth paying for.
I see this as a short term money grab that will see the hits on their site plummet. Perhaps they can wait out their competition… but I doubt it. I will miss you Startribune.com… but not as much as I’d miss a hundred bucks out of my wallet.