Let’s charge for FREE stuff!

So, according to this there’s talk of newspapers planning to charge subscribers for free news content. This article comes a few days after I read this article discussing the anger of some newspapers who are fed up with Google displaying free content from publications via search.

Free Press

Not so fast.

On the free content thing. In the early stages of my current job about a year and a half ago, my old line manager (Web manager) told me how he was trying to convince the marketing department to stop charging for access to the entire site and just charge for special content they couldn’t find anywhere else. Back then, subscribers were the only ones who could access news articles. I agreed with him, but no one in marketing did for about a year. This idea works because if people who wouldn’t normally go to your site suddenly see it pop up in a search engine, the site is going to get traffic it wouldn’t normally get. The downside is lost revenue if they don’t buy a subscription once they get to the site. The upside is more people would know that this publication was an authority on it’s subject. And, the publication could charge for extra sprecial features that honesty NO OTHER publication could offer. I don’t see anything wrong with offering free news content as long as you have something worthy of charging behind it. More traffic, more people genuinely interested in what you have to say. No “member’s only” crap. But, with sales of print declining, and very little to offer besides the news, how can these papers stay in business?

I see their point.

On the newspapers getting grumpy with Google for indexing there stories allowing readers to read for free.

The thing is, newspapers can effectively stop Google from indexing their stories. Thus, allowing content from the papers to not show up on Google. Which, isn’t exactly what the newspapers want.

What newspapers can easily avoid?

What newspapers can easily avoid?

Searching the web for free content, I found that the plot was that newspapers want their stories to be listed in Google searches and to be paid for those listings. I pondered this, and thought about how that wouldn’t work with me. If I had to click a story on Google, and was asked to pay when I got to the newspaper’s site to read the article, I would just go back to Google and search for the story again. I would repeat the process until I was able to access it. And even if this “pay newspapers via Google” thing go through, there would probably be more blogs supplying the information I was looking for.

So, yea. Hope they figure that out in a way designed so I can still access stories for free.

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