The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting on itself today and confirms that it, along with all of Parent Company Gannett's regional newspapers, will adopt a Paywall model for its website by the end of the year. The paper indicates it will use a subscription model similar to the New York Times, which allows for a limited number of free articles per month.
Needless to say this will send some into a tizzy. Not me. I have no problem with the Enquirer doing this. We as a public have long been coddled by having free news websites. It costs money to gather and write news articles. Sure, I wish the Enquirer did a better job of doing that, but that does not make the economics of reality go away. So I really hope the complainers get it out of their systems quickly. I for one will not be forgiving when anyone complains about having to pay for news. I also will challenge them to find a more comphensive source for local news in Cincinnati. If all you want is national news, you had 1,000 better sources than the Enquir anyway.
There are several things I believe the Enquirer must do in order to make this work:
1. Create more local content. Laying off more reporters is not the way to go. Some more hires better be in their future.
2. Don't rehash national Gannett content behind the Paywall. If I am going to pay for something it needs to be unique, so make the news local or at least by local reporters.
3. Bring back some opinion. Commentary is not evil, it just needs to be smart and not anything like Peter Bronson.
4. Make the archives free for online subscribers. If I am going to pay for content, I want to be able to read it now or three years from now. It should be retroactive too. I'd personally pay a slight premium for this, but not an arm and a leg.
5. Make it cheaper than the New York Times. The NYT may be able to make up the difference in volume, but you can't consider the value of the Enquirer to be more, let alone the same, as the Times.
6. iPad App: I believe this is in the works, but it can't come soon enough.
7. Make it easy. Don't have 12 price levels, a few is enough. Also allow access from all online tools: PC, Tablet & Phone.
What ever it looks like, I will subscribe. I am a news junkie and need the fix. I hope I like the high it gives me.