My company’s group of NC papers is migrating to a new CMS. I’m the lead for my paper. Within the setup questionnaire that started the process, there was an option for a free “day pass” for non-subscribers. I checked that box. Why not? Let a curious non-reader in. Maybe, best-case scenario, you gain a reader. Worst-case, someone who never reads you leaves that incremental revenue associated with the online ads that displayed with that person’s visit.
Later, I was told, nope, can’t do that. Nothing free is allowed.
How about $1? The iTunes 99 cents? Nope, it’s less than the charges that would be associated with the payment system.
So what is the one-day charge? $5. Read again: FIVE. DOLLARS.
“You have lost your f***ing mind,” I said.
I have been fortunate in my career that I have had multiple bosses who tolerate being spoken to that way.
“You have lost your f***ing mind,” I repeated. “Who would pay that?”
Still, my objections aside, that’s the plan. Come Aug. 7, at the latest, that’s the cost. Also the cost for a full week. The hope, if not the theory, is people will choose a week — and not, as I maintain, just give up.
I likened it to erecting an admission gate at Sears and saying you couldn’t come in unless you paid $5. I can walk through Sears or any retail store in this country, peruse the wares, pick them up, wack fellow customers in the arm with them, etc., without paying a dime and without any horribly overt ads confronting me.
I lost this argument.
Meanwhile, a free startup website that we had passed in social engagement has switched to a more aggegration-based strategy and has passed us in at least some measures, though it has less actual news content than it did before (its content is entirely social, press release or spot news the poster comes upon). But it’s free. I’m told, by those in the business, its ad rates mean it can’t possibly be making any money. But I’m told, by people in the community, that it’s intending to hire staff.
I don’t know yet who wins that argument.