Sunday, May 05, 2013
The Standard Times paywall, nearly a week old, wiped out a vibrant commenter community. The front page looks like a lightly read blog, with zero comments next to every headline and top story. Of five "most popular" stories, two had a comment, as in singular.
"Most commented" had 38 comments under the Publisher's Letter announcing the move, which came with no, as in zero, notice. The other four "most commented" ranged from six to two in number.
The Standard Times even turned Rick Smith's column into a comment-less zone. I wonder how zero compares to Rick's historical average. I hope the bean counters at Scripps run that number.
I wonder how the discussions went inside the Publisher suite on the new paywall. I bet they said, "We have loyal readers." "What alternative local news sources do they have?" "We offer premium local content which has value."
Who suggested pricing the digital version at $14.99 per month, when Scripps' other Texas papers offer the same service for $9.95 a month? Let's assume the Standard Times' loyal online readers were willing to consider paying for access How might they feel showing up one day to find the rules changed overnight? The vibrant online community didn't have the opportunity to discuss their reactions, give any advice or share their plans.
Also, I wonder how much the active online community contributed to the overall value proposition? With community interaction gone, how much is the site worth per month?
The Standard Times razed its active online community in the interest of profit development. This is a metaphor for San Angelo, from Lake Nasworthy to the Cline Shale, which will boom, then bust. What's coming may be premium priced, i.e. not for existing users.
by PEU Report/State of the Division at 10:10 AM