Cheeseman: paywall, iPhone app coming
UPDATED: More details on the paywall for GoErie.com: “The cost for non-newspaper subscribers will be $6.95 per month, and Sunday-only customers and others who subscribe in increments less than the full seven days will be offered a discounted price of $2.95 per month.”
The paper is putting the “whoa!” on GoErie.com.
In a publisher’s column in Sunday’s Erie Times-News, President and Publisher Rosanne Cheeseman dropped the other shoe in her realignment of the Erie area’s largest news operation from a “ink and paper” based outlet to a multi-stream digital enterprise that is fighting to find a model where consumers will help subsidize the work of professional producers.
The first shoe of course is getting the Times Publishing Co. out of the newsprint publishing business. The transition to outsourcing the production of the newsprint version of their content to the Butler Eagle is expected to occur in the next few weeks, along with the loss of 40 jobs. Now the paper has their sights on the thousands of readers who consume it’s product without plunking down the obligatory six bits. Cheeseman explains:
GoErie.com will also soon launch a digital subscription program. Print subscribers will continue to have unlimited access to our website. However, nonsubscribers will be required to pay a fee for extended access to what we consider premium content — notably most of the bylined work of our professional reporters.
She goes on to say that GoErie.com will remain the community’s portal, with breaking news, obits, and blogs still free. If you take the Monday, July 25th morning version of GoErie as an example, on the five featured posts on the image rotator, one was a bylined news story, one a bylined sports story, one a link to a photo gallery (which would be free), and two were internal promos.
In her post Cheeseman announced that an GoErie app for the iPhone and iPad has been submitted for approval by Apple. It will allow the reader to view stories as if published on paper or in a story list, along with layers of video and additional content, including a voice function that will read the paper to you.
Several questions remain, with the biggest being will people who gladly fork over $80 per month for cable TV pay for a digital subscription of
$8, $10 or $12 $7 or $3 a month? How will the inevitable loss of eyeballs affect display ad rates at GoErie? If print subscribers get unlimited access to GoErie, then why aren’t they getting automatic GoErie “Insider” subscriptions and the ability to make comments on stories right now (ETN circulation and GoErie are currently totally separate profit centers)?
And what about the aggregators?