Monday, June 25, 2012

Indeed, it's 100% coincidental rates soared across Gannett this spring with the start of paywalls

"We aren’t raising our rates because
of the digital changes." 

-- Richard Roesgen, general manager of The Reporter at Fond du Lac, in a weekend column about the Wisconsin paper raising subscription prices an unspecified amount when a paywall goes up June 26.

In fact, only last week CEO Gracia Martore boasted to a Wall Street conference that new paywalls would usher in subscription rate increases of 25% to 30% across the newspaper division -- eventually generating more than $100 million in additional annual profits.


  1. Speaking as a Wisconsin news junkie, I checked all of Gannett's sites this past Sunday. I could not find one single article or photograph I would pay to see via a paywall. On the other hand, I found several articles I would pay to read on the websites of the Wisconsin State Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Give it up, Gannett. Your newspapers AND your websites are not worth my hard-earned dollars!

  2. The GB Press Gazette it seems will be starting their paywall this week, they had an article talking about subscriptions and implying just about everything except how the program will actually work and how much it will cost. Even now, they said it would start counting and limiting the number of articles starting today, and I can't find anything beside home delivery subscriptions.

    Even a year ago, I would've had to get with the program if it was roughly $10/month. With the way they're headed, I might have to see if I can go without. WBAY, the website for our local ABD affiliate, has been getting really close to passing them for being worthwhile if it hasn't happened already.

  3. $100 million in additional annual profits will never be met. That figure will be offset by the large number of cancelled subscriptions.
    Fewer readers equals smaller advertiser revenue.

  4. My letter from the Appleton P-C says new rate will be $24 a month - $22 if you pay thru E-Z pay.
    Definitely not worth it. I'll let my subscription expire.

  5. Here in Vermont, we're a month into the Burlington Free Press' Great Paywall Experiment. We were told we had 10 visits per month free, then we'd have to pay. So far, all the news the Free Press decides to cover (and that ain't much) is still free. I keep visiting the site, keep getting pop-ups telling me it's time to subscribe but still get unlimited access to the site. Wonder if the Freeps brass is worried about losing too many eyeballs on ads.

  6. How can these people expect higher revenue when readers will, and are, dumping Gannett's papers in droves? Higher rates and less content does not equal success.

  7. I don't know anyone who pays to get through the paywall. People figured out fairly quickly you just have to clear your cookies. It's a joke that punishes the older readers who have made the transition online but aren't that tech-savvy.

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  9. I'm hearing 10% drops in print circulation from last year. And negative comments from older (core) readers about the comic-like design.

    Another great idea to help destroy the company.

  10. I'd love to answer every one of the comments on these stories, but I have no interest in using my facebook account in telling my neighbors that they can suckit for complaining about paying for what I work hard on every day.

    They are more than welcome to chase stories and advertisers on their own for what we provide every day.

    By ditching the freeloaders, our demographics will tilt heavily in favor of people advertisers actually want - not young, not old - but people with actual money to spend.

    Everyone that is left at our site, we all work hard on our products. It's about time we tell people what we do is valuable, and worth paying for.

  11. 7:39 - What you say is absolutely true. The kicker? People will start paying for your content and you'll still be furloughed and working without a raise. How does that make you feel?

    1. Like I need to spend time in Cannes. Or at the Purpose Wall.

  12. Worth paying for? Nope!

    Gannett's news will always be the third choice in Wisconsin. For award-winning journalism, people will turn to the "papers" in both Milwaukee and Madison before Gannett's publications.

  13. Not true. MJS's Pulitzer nominations don't mean a whole lot to me when the vast majority of their stories revolve around Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

    For the most part, people still want news-they-can-use. What their mayor is proposing for recycling, what bullying programs are in their schools, what restaurant is opening up downtown.

    We have to cover state and world news because there are readers who depend on us for that. But we show our value, our 'need-to-read' factor by focusing on the local over-the-back-fence stories that actually matter to people - not the award-winning journalism that's both expensive and rare.

  14. 8:44 - I'll still have a job doing what I love. We keep giving our stuff away and that could evaporate.

  15. I've always been unclear on the "news you can use" meme. To imply on the basis of geography that some news is inherently useful and other news is not, it seems fairly arrogant to me -- especially in a global economy where being informed is by definition useful. I don't think coverage should be loaded one way or the other; it should embrace local, state, national and world equally. Reducing the paper to a virtual Christmas letter (except it's one you get every day) is great for those types who want it, but to make it a major focus at the expense of the rest is a cynical disservice to an informed republic.

  16. Just got my letter in Wisconsin Rapids today and a phrase stood out: "We are not raising our rates because of the digital changes I mentioned earlier."
    I don't know why these form letters that are paraded around like heart-felt columns from the GMs bother me so much.

  17. Informed republic? You give your neighbors too much credit.

    I honestly don't give a crap about the new president of Egypt. In what existence would that ever affect me? But if my alderman takes bribes to fix potholes on one street instead of mine, that's something I want uncovered.

    The difference is - if I do want to know about Egypt or Justin Bieber or how the Dodgers did last night, there are a hundred sites that can cover it well. In my community of 30,000 people - only one source covers the aldermen like the people down the hall from me.

    Shoving information in your head because it's out there is by definition NOT useful - because you can't use that in your daily life. Otherwise we'd all memorize DNA sequences and Aborigine music patterns.

  18. Jeff, because you know it's a big lie? That's how I feel, too. And I still haven't gotten my letter.

  19. We can debate the quality and quantity of news to a particular audience from now until the end of time, but one fact remains: a newspaper will never be able to recover the revenue from both advertising and subscriptions with paywall fees. And because of that fact, news reporting will suffer. If writers want to be paid for their work, then they have to work harder, faster and smarter than they have in the past. White collar jobs have changed. We are all now measured by how much we produce and how effective our products are to a certain market.

  20. One of the Milwaukee TV stations (ABC) reported on Gannett's paywalls for websites from its Wisconsin newspapers. At the end of the story the reporter from the TV station stated, "Our websites are still FREE!"


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