Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Democrat and Chronicle Paywall

Gannett Co., Inc. plans to place online content on all of its local newspapers behind a paywall in the immediate future.   This means we'll have to pay to read material from the Democrat and Chronicle online.

Gannett is a big, sophisticated corporation, so we have to think that it has a business model showing that paywalling its local papers will work, and ultimately make money for its stockholders.

Still, we have to wonder whether people will pay money to read about how terrible it is when indigent alcoholics who die in flophouses don't get a nice funeral for free.

Gasoline's at $4.00 and going up, crisis is brewing over Iran, the economy's still in the tank -- and this is the D&C's idea of what's important to its readers.

This morning's headline, "Sally Green to Get New Burial," -- about the twelfth story on the subject -- looked more like something out of The Onion than a real newspaper.

And The Onion isn't paywalled.


Rottenchester said...

There are a lot of things to criticize about the D&C, but speaking ill of a dead person who is only a public figure postmortem due to circumstances beyond her control isn't really necessary to make your point. I really have no issue with being pretty harsh on politicians, but how about we let poor Sally rest in peace?

BTW, you're correct that one of the failings of the D&C is that they spend too much time on "human interest" stories and too little time on beat coverage. (That's a general Gannett failing, by the way.)

Anonymous said...

While I don't disagree that the only reason I read the D&C's site is that I'd rather not pay for such poorly written news items, I have to point out that you're an asshole for your assessment of the Sally Green affair.

Yes, I said asshole. I'm starting it off with an ad hominem. Don't worry, it'll get worse.

In any case, Sally Green, had you actually READ any of those stories you decry, suffered from mental illness which lead to her becoming an alcoholic. Of course, most who become alcoholics suffer from mental illness, but I know that point is lost on you. I realize right wing nutjobs believe that absolutely every human being on the planet is exactly like them and their life experiences are exactly the same as everyone else's, but that's not at all true. I also understand the standard ignorant man's belief is that mental illness can just be overcome with sufficient willpower, but the rest of us live in the real world.

No one's asking for a handout. Sally Green, despite your attempts to frame her as a "thing" unworthy of your attention, was a human being. Due to her illness, she had a hard life and died a sad and lonely death only to be dumped into a grave to be forgotten. I realize this is fine with you, but the rest of us actually care about people who are not us. It's a sad story, and folks like to know that while it wasn't much, at least she's finally buried somewhere where she can be remembered as mother and sister...not "useless piece of trash who got what she deserved". It's not the best ending to the story, but it was worse prior to the rewrite.

With this post, I have to wonder: now that you're aware of Oatka Cemetery, will you now frequent it to piss on the graves of those who lived and died in manners you don't approve of?

Mycroft said...

Aren't we touchy today.

The criticism here isn't of the subject of the D&C's article.

The point is that the D&C's harping on this story shows how out of touch it is with issues that matter to most of its readers. And that in turn makes me wonder whether people who now read it for free are going to pay for it.

That's all.

And it's not speaking ill of the subject of the story to describe her with exactly the same vocabulary the D&C used in its stories (at least the first one) on the subject. Except it didn't say "flophouse." It said "Cadillac Hotel." Which is a flophouse.

Or am I now being mean to the Cadillac Hotel?

Anonymous said...

Being conservative and Republican does NOT mean being insensitive to the unfortunate circumstances of others -- but perhaps in your case, mycoft, it does.

The point of the D&C series is not about "getting a nice funeral for free."

The point is that this woman was dumped into a grave without anybody in the chain of events bothering to collect/inspect her belongs to see if she had any family to contact. These are simple basic services of local government and agencies that went undone in this case -- and who knows how many others.

Perhaps you have no interest in the story, but I do -- and I pay to get the paper on my doorstep every morning.

I agree that the quality of writing and reporting has declined, but this is an example of a story the D&C are doing well.

Anonymous said...

Pay to read the D&C? I think you have made a bad assumption especially in regards to Mustard Street. Why would someone pay for information that has no or little value? More to the point, a general failing for Mustard Street is that its authors and followers rely heavily on free access to the D&C. Using a paywall, adversly impacts the viability and mission of Mustard Street.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, who's the 5:05 leftwing wacko losing his or her mind here? You claim to sympathize with her but call her all kinds of nasty and evil things. You don't make any sense. Hopefully, if you happen to be an alcoholic, your family will make sure they know what your situation is and if, God forbid, something happened to you.

Mycroft said...

Is there a sudden problem with reading comprehension?

Let's take it from the top.

The point of my posting is: are people willing to pay for not one or two, but about a dozen stories harping on this subject?

What's important to the Gannett employees who run the D&C is very different from what's important to most of the people who live in their market area. And now Gannett headquarters is going to make people pay for the privilege of reading it. And I really don't think that many of them will.

That's what this piece is about.

Anonymous said...

Mycroft, you just keep misfiring on this one. Do you really mean to infer that anyone that misses the intent of your musings has a lack of readership comprehension? How Democratic of you.

The D&C paywall is the death knell for Mustard Street.

Rottenchester said...

Mycroft, there's no problem with reading comprehension, but there is a problem with your ability to communicate your point cleanly. There was no need to call Sally an "indigent alcoholic" to make your point, and when you did, you lost part of your audience and got diverted into an irrelevant argument.

Also, it's funny that part of your defense was saying that the D&C did it, too, when the whole point of your piece is that the D&C isn't a very good paper.

Lucy said...

I leave it to Mike to respond to criticisms of his post.

Anonymous 3/7 @ 3:32 and 3/8 @ 8:43(I take it you're the same commenter, since your point's the same in each comment):

Either you're wrong, or I'm not understanding your point, when you write, "... a general failing for Mustard Street is that its authors and followers rely heavily on free access to the D&C. Using a paywall, adversly impacts the viability and mission of Mustard Street."

First, I can't say I'm certain as to Tony or Rich, but I am aware that each of our other writers subscribes to the D&C. I do too. And I'd bet that Tony and Rich do as well. So we don't rely on free online access in that sense.

Second, our informal policy, for what I want to say is about a year, more or less, is that we don't link to stories on the D&C website. Even though the effect of this is not felt in the least by Gannett, as a matter of conscience we don't wish to aid them by improving their hit numbers, even if was just 1 or 2 hits.

We'll pay for their paper to see what they're up to now. But beyond that, no more.

As to a paywall at the D&C jeopardizing our mission, I have to ask, "How?"

Our mission is to observe and comment on (mostly) political matters specific to the Rochester area.

The Democrat & Chronicle is one of the principal partisan political players on the local scene, promoting the agenda and interests of the local Democratic Party and often taking the lead in shaping its agenda. So a blog that talks about local politics will be talking about the role of the D&C in local politics, which is why we often refer to it.

The paper going behind a paywall won't change what we do, our mission, or our access to the paper.

Richard Tyson said...

I personally only read the D&C online. Will I pay for access to their content? Probably. Why? I enjoy engaging in public dialogue. I will also say that I believe this is a very good thing to happen and will tell you all in a few weeks why.