Chicago Sun-Times to Charge Online

December 19, 2011

In order to generate revenue from online content, a vendor must have a critical mass of digital information. Some of that information can be fluff, but a chunk should be what’s called “must have” content. Newspapers perceive themselves as having “must have” content. Most don’t and those with must have content have burned the fudge.

As most readers (including our two or three) have started getting their news online instead of reaching for the paper in the morning, print newspapers have been suffering.

Signs of this change are obvious in Chicago; The Chicago Sun-Times will begin charging customers to view content on their websites. In the Huffington Post article “Chicago Sun-Times Pay Wall: Paper to Charge Online Readers,” Sun-Times Media Chairman Jeremy Halbreich states, “It is certainly award-winning content and we need to find new ways to support it.” The article also tells us:

The announcement arrives one day after another round of layoffs at the paper, which Halbreich called the ‘final piece’ of 18 months of staffing reductions, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. Sun-Times Media has handed down hundreds of layoffs over the past two years.

In the same article, Sun Times movie critic Roger Ebert says he is upset with the pay wall concept and I agree. Ebert claims that instead of his reviews gathering dust in a pile, they are being read globally and daily online. Charging for online content will only cause readers to stray elsewhere to sites where they can get unlimited free information. Right now, the Sun Times is exempting mobile apps from the fees, which I think they should reconsider as an alternative to the pay wall. But I’m just a mere Kentucky gosling, I may be off on my business advice.

The big goose is not uncertain. The newspaper is likely to earn more from a bake sale than trying to replace the print based ad model with a pay wall. The big goose is, of course, Stephen E Arnold, our beloved leader.

Andrea Hayden, December 19, 2011

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