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Giving away online that which you sell in print

I’m always amazed by what is available for free on the Internet. The local paper here in New Orleans, the Times Picayune, has a great website which has pretty much everything that is in their print edition. In fact, they even post some stories on the web that haven’t yet made it to print. Sometimes I think about this and then say to myself why don’t you just cancel delivery and read the paper online everyday?

But then I realize that while I sometimes enjoy the online information I still need a physical copy of the paper if I want to regularly read the local news. Let’s face it: reading the local paper online everyday is not really something most people want to do (me included). Still, the TP is wise to put its content online. It allows people to send story links to their friends, or to post links on their websites and weblogs. It may build traffic to the website that translates into customer goodwill, and perhaps even more sales.

Another publication that I am surprised to find online is The New Yorker. After all, this is a well-respected publication that has apparently never turned a profit. It features the nation’s best writers and cartoonists. And pretty much all of its content is online for free, including the cartoons. (check out the licensing rates for cartoons)

Since I joined bloggerdom I’ve heard a lot of people carping about newspapers that block content or break links by charging access to archived material. I think it is perfectly acceptable for a business entity to do what it has to ensure its financial success. Sometimes that means charging for access etc.

But, I’ll say this. Those entities that make their stuff available for free, like the New Yorker, should be applauded and linked to by bloggers in droves. And it wouldn’t hurt to subscribe to the New Yorker either. Hell, it’s only $46 a year for a year’s worth of weekly issues.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

One Comment

  • John Anderson says:

    Since I am a very curious type, and follow lots of links, I like having sites like Japan Today and the London Times online. And since I am on an extremely limited budget, I like having it for free.

    But I do recognize that some may need to generate a cash flow somehow. When a UK newspaper wants to charge $15/month, though, for those who do not get the physical paper (if you do, the online copy is free: huh?), it’s more than I can afford.

    Salon has a compromise that seems to work: you can subscribe to the site, or in return for suffering through a moment or so of adverts get a 24-hour pass to [most of] the site.

    Another model I’ve seen is that today’s news is free, but editorials and other non-news items cost, as does access to the archives after 24 hours. The particular site on which I encountered this has decent prices, too, if still too much for my wallet. It allows free deep-link access to the archives for a single item, if you want to send (or blog) a link.