As the newspaper industry continues to struggle, more and more attention is being paid to the paywall strategy being promoted MediaNews Group boss (and Denver Post publisher) Dean Singleton. He plans to start charging readers for lotsa online content at select MediaNews papers in California and Pennsylvania beginning in 2010 -- and in an interview with Bloomberg, he confirms that such articles will be blocked from Google News. While there are no plans to erect a paywall around Post pieces (yet), another big newspaper company -- A.H. Belo, owner of the Dallas Morning News -- may soon follow Singleton's lead.
All of which strikes blogger Rob Burgess as utter lunacy. In an item on the topic, Burgess, a former writer for a MediaNews paper, rips the approach as too little way too late in an open letter to Singleton. His prediction: a future without newspapers. Read his take below:
Dear Mr. Singleton,
You and the people that own these newspapers are completely at fault for the current state of the industry. Even though I am no longer under your employ I derive no satisfaction from this statement. I am the fourth generation of my family to work in newspapers.
You ruined everything in the beginning by starting with giving everything away for free. It has now been almost 15 years since the Internet broke wide and you're just NOW getting around to asking people to pay for your content? I don't blame people for not wanting to pay for it anymore, why should they? Who would pay for something they can get for free? That's foolishness.
If this is the best idea you people have come up with, we're looking at newspaperless future even faster than I thought.
Sincerely your former employee,
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.