May 25, 2012

Mourning #NOLA, demanding paywalls

For those who haven't heard, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, which survived Hurricane Katrina, and famously websiting at, is cutting back to just three days a week of print publication.

(Three other Newhouse papers, in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Mobile, Ala., are doing the same.)

Sure, you’ll save a bunch of money in print costs, and on fired copy editors and graphic artists, but, speaking of graphic artists, you’re going to lose a boatload on hardcopy ads.

And, not just local ROP, but national, and national inserts. I don''t care if Newhouse is doing this based on having done it in Ann Arbor, Mich. That is a small city in Detroit's shadow. New Orleans (and Birmingham) are actual major metro areas. If you're halfway giving up on your print paper, why should a struggling retailer, say, a JCPenney, continue to insert or run ROP with you?)

And, speaking of business-side issues, Newhouse is doing this while letting the online version stay 100-percent free.

And, that’s the problem. Where’s the paywall?

That's why David Simon (of "The Wire") is right. Where's the paywall? 

But, a real paywall is needed. Not a fake one, like the New York Times one that can be busted with a Javascript workaround. (Simon was wrong to say it has a real paywall.) Nor a semi-fake like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which gives you a full 20 free articles then charges just 99 cents a week after that.

And, frankly, it's kind of sad that I and others like me know more about the business side of newspapers than do their owners, whether they're publicly traded or family concerns. It's also sad that too many of these owners are listening to the likes of Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky on opposing paywalls and other things.

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