Home What's Brewing? Seattle Times to Erect Pay Wall for Internet Access

Seattle Times to Erect Pay Wall for Internet Access

The Seattle Times will cut off free Internet access to its front page news reporting beginning March 15.

Seattle Times executive editor David Boardman issued the historic Compensation Proclamation for 2013:

The economics of the news business, and of the newspaper industry in particular, have changed dramatically over the past decade. More people than ever are reading our content in print and digital formats, but our primary source of revenue — advertising — is declining locally and nationally and no longer supports our costs to the degree it once did,” he said.

“Since The New York Times began charging for full access to its website two years ago, more than 400 daily newspapers across the country — including most in this state — now have digital subscriptions. Full, unrestricted access to their websites is no longer free.”

Wired Pen weighed in on the pronouncement: “We know that online revenue cannot rescue the existing advertising-supported business model. And that subscriptions have, on average, covered only 3 percent of costs.

” Most newspapers cannot continue to support a daily print edition. The Christian Science Monitor announced in 2008 that it was going weekly in 2009. PC World went print-only in 2009. That’s because in 2000, newsprint accounted for 15-30 percent of operating costs.

News Corp. announced earlier this month that is is splitting its entertainment businesses in two: publishing on one side and movies/TV on the other.

Fair or unfair, it lays this verdict, which, ironically was found in 2009:

“Subtract the percentage of news in a local daily newspaper that comes from a wire service. What’s left? Today’s Sunday’s Seattle Times, had two locally-produced news stories in the “A” section (three if you count the front-page photo); three locally-produced stories in the “B” section; one in business; and one in real estate. (I didn’t check sports.) The remainder (excluding opinion and columns) was wire stories. This means that today’s newspaper reader has less and less of reason to buy the local paper: its relevance has dropped off a cliff.”

Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie indicated that some content will continue to be free. ” The Seattletimes.com home page, comics, index pages, photo galleries, video content, entertainment listings, paid listings and the classified sights will be unmetered. Metered content includes news and opinion content, blogs and live chats. The mix of metered and unmetered content the individual uses will determine how much content they will see before encountering the paywall. Infrequent users or users of unmetered content will likely not be impacted by this change.”

Boardman summed it up in his column on Feb 23:   “It is a truism of American life that you get what you pay for. The notion is that quality is usually commensurate with cost. Even China, not a traditional bastion of capitalism, has its own version: “Yi fen qian, yi fen huo,” meaning, “One cent gives you one cent’s worth.”

Current print subscribers will soon receive details about activating their digital accounts. New subscribers may call 206-464-2121, or go to http://seattletimes.com/subscribe.  [24×7]