Addicted to novelty since 2001

Newspapers Going Offline

Like many other bloggers and technologists, I’ve written bitterly about the registration walls being thrown up around online versions of popular newspapers. The Globe and Mail is only the most recent example. As a newspaper writer, Clive Thompson (whose Slate gig I covet) provides a very even-handed look at the problem:

Many newspapers are going this route, citing the obvious reason: They’re losing money because web surfers don’t buy a print copy. (That isn’t a chimerical concern; I have many friends who do precisely this.) There’s also the distinct possibility of the newspaper making a bit of coin off selling the email lists to online marketers, who apparently will pay rather insane rates — up to $300 per thousand — for addresses. Being a guy who occasionally writes for newspapers, and who reads them voraciously and wants them to survive, I’m in favor of anything they need to do to make ends meet.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Newspapers are part of our national heritage, and our government should be incentivising them to not only make them freely available online, but to archive and store them responsibly for future generations. If the historic importance of newspapers is a topic that interests you, go read Double Fold by Nicholson Baker. It’s densely-written, but highly informative.

4 Responses to “Newspapers Going Offline”

  1. Darren

    It’s really a word. I looked it up to make sure it wasn’t just some marketing-speak that had snuck into my vocabulary.

  2. Cheryl

    I think there could be a common ground here. Perhaps access to older material (over one week, or one month or whatever is deemed “stale”) could be free, and the most recent for subscribers-only.

    I work in an academic library and many of the journal content we subscribe to is available this way — the institutional subscription does not include the most recent issue of a journal. I guess they figure most libraries would then buy both the print and electronic subscriptions.

    I can respect the papers’ wanting to protect their content (I know I never subscribed to our local paper, but would regularly read the online edition free until they closed it down to non-subscribers Sept. 7th) but I agree that something should be done to archive the information.

  3. Rog

    Bah, I’ve despised newspapers for years, haven’t purchased one since the 80’s. Maybe it’s because of the poor selection of local pay rags. I’m not terribly impressed with this as our journalistic heritage.

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