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Monday, February 25, 2013

Will You Pay $4 a Week to Read the Seattle Times Website?

Posted by on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 11:47 AM

The Seattle Times says they're gonna build a paywall in mid-March, so if you want website access, you'll have to pay up. You can either subscribe to the tree-on-your-porch edition (thereby getting yourself get a free online subscription, too) or shell out $4 a week just to read the website.

Hundreds of commenters are not happy. "I'll miss reading your comments when the Seattle Times starts charging for access and 80-90% of us disappear from the comments board," says one of 'em.

But as executive editor David Boardman explains, "our primary source of revenue—advertising—is declining locally and nationally and no longer supports our costs to the degree it once did."

Boardman then compares the Seattle Times and its "quality journalism" to the New York Times, which erected a paywall in 2011. But let's be real: I've read the New York Times. I've paid for the New York Times. I've let the New York Times into my home. And the Seattle Times is no New York Times. The Gray Lady is irreplaceable. In contrast, much of the Seattle Times is completely replaceable content from news services—including the New York Times—which can be read elsewhere for free or with more stories.

It seems the Seattle Times is banking on legions of online-only subscribers who don't know that lots of other—and sometimes better—local news content exists for free. Savvier readers will just piece together stories from smaller newsrooms that have more insightful and more granular reporting anyway. Places like West Seattle Blog, Capitol Hill Seattle blog, Seattlepi.com, PubliCola, Seattle Transit Blog, the Sunbreak, and Ye Old Slog are arguably piecemeal, but add in mainstream city and state coverage from places like the Everett Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, KIRO, KING, KOMO, KCPQ—including the AP coverage—and you've got a complete breakfast. Aggregating all that is easy with Twitter. The future of the internet is people who do that. Putting aside those who have to read the news for their jobs, the quintessential Seattle Times readers will be those without the wherewithal—older, unsavvy, politically disengaged and socially isolated consumers—to assemble that scattered content. So while the Seattle Times will almost certainly see a short-term jump in revenue, their target demographic will dwindle as people become more web-competent and old people die off.

But I'm often wrong. And Slog polls are always right. So...

 

Comments (50) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
I guess they should start sexist strippers ads and have no union in the news room like The Stranger .... that's a for-profit model all liberals can stand behind!
Posted by Sugartit on February 25, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
2
The Times has allowed the line between editorial and reporting to be blurred over the last couple of years. That's one reason I just won't pay.

Also, my checking shows that it would be about $6 a week for the Times. But whether it is $4 or $6, it is MORE monthly than getting the digital NY Times (which I pay $15 for).

I'm not paying more for the Seattle Times than the NY Times.
Posted by westello on February 25, 2013 at 11:59 AM · Report this
3
Largely agree.

What worries me though is:

"Places like West Seattle Blog, Capitol Hill Seattle blog, Seattlepi.com, PubliCola, Seattle Tranist Blog, the Sunbreak, and Ye Old Slog are arguably piecemeal, but add in mainstream city and state coverage from places like the Everett Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, KIRO, KING, KOMO, KCPQ—including the AP coverage—and you've got a complete breakfast."

Do those piecemeal sources have a viable economic model to stay in the news gathering business?

(also, perhaps you should include links in that paragraph to those sources)
Posted by msea1 on February 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
4
frank blethen no longer gets to park wherever he wants. other people occupy that space now frank. its a self contained unit too. we don't need you, your role is no longer vital.

fu.
Posted by tim koch on February 25, 2013 at 12:03 PM · Report this
5
Why would I pay money to a publication whose newsroom and editorial pages exist to attack my values as a young, progressive urban Seattle resident who would rather not have to drive everywhere? Paying any subscription fee to the Seattle Times is no different than donating to any other right-wing organization. If they want my money they need to stop attacking and start wooing people like us.
Posted by junipero on February 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
6
Largely agree.

What worries me though is:

"Places like West Seattle Blog, Capitol Hill Seattle blog, Seattlepi.com, PubliCola, Seattle Tranist Blog, the Sunbreak, and Ye Old Slog are arguably piecemeal, but add in mainstream city and state coverage from places like the Everett Herald, Tacoma News Tribune, KIRO, KING, KOMO, KCPQ—including the AP coverage—and you've got a complete breakfast."

Do those piecemeal sources have a viable economic model to stay in the news gathering business?

(also, perhaps you should include links in that paragraph to those sources)
Posted by msea1 on February 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 7
Is there any data on other local/regional papers that have switched to the digital pay model, and how they have subsequently fared? I know that the Phoenix-area newspaper (Arizona Republic) has done this - what are the others, and how are they doing?
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on February 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
8
im done with this. fuck this shit.
Posted by tim koch on February 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 9
Someone is going to miss reading the comments? I know people think of Youtube as the worst cesspool of internet comments, but I've always found the those of the major news sites to be every bit as horrible. Worse, even, given that these are people who actually keep up with current events.
Posted by Matt from Denver on February 25, 2013 at 12:04 PM · Report this
10
Most newspaper paywalls I've run into, you just delete the goddamn cookies in your browser, and you're fine.
Posted by GermanSausage on February 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
11
@1 - wondering what would unionizing really accomplish? Newspapers are dying - its a sad fact. There doesn't seem to be many bargaining chips on the workers side.
Posted by Conrad McMasters on February 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM · Report this
12
I sure hope you guys are planning on getting a subscription for Goldy--how else will he write 85% of his posts?
Posted by Westside forever on February 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Teslick 13
9: I agree..."80-90% of us disappear from the comments board" would be the only reason to subscribe.

Nobody should be surprised at this though, after the campaign fiasco from last year. This is an organization desperate for money anywhere they can find it.
Posted by Teslick on February 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
seatackled 14
I stopped reading them for free when they donated to McKenna with that free ad campaign. They went off my bookmarks, and I just don't go there any more. So I wouldn't pay because I don't use their service.
Posted by seatackled on February 25, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 15
LOL!!! The Seattle Times is comparable to The New York Times. That made me laugh.

The Seattle Times is gone by the end of the year
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on February 25, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
What @5 said.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 25, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
picaroon 17
I'll have to weigh the value of having additional sunlight on public life versus the pain of writing a check to Blethen and all of the conservative support that entails. Not sure what I'll choose.

That said, if 80-90% of commenters go away, that would make reading the web-Times far better.
Posted by picaroon on February 25, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
18
Ditto @5- The Seattle Times Is "Seattle" in name only. In reality it is more like The Medina Times, little more than a daily collection of shallow, intellectually vapid justifications for the selfish, anti-urban agendas of the likes of Kemper Freeman and Rodney Tom.
The sooner the times folds, the better.
Posted by Pol Pot on February 25, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
19
I believe the only correct answer is "BAHAHAHAHAHA! Good joke, Seattle Times. Good joke."
Posted by tired and true on February 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Cascadian 20
The Seattle Times is a sinking ship. I want a source of quality local news reporting, and an alt-weekly like The Stranger can't really do that. But I'm not paying for an awkward ad-filled paper edition that wastes trees just to get free online access. I'm not going to pay money to an ownership that's at odds with the values I hold important, and that editorializes against my interests. I'd rather see them go out of business than pay for their product.

Get rid of the Blethens, jettison national news that is better handled by the New York Times and other national outlets, and focus on high-quality reporting of meaningful local news and content (and not just it bleeds it leads), and I'll gladly pay them money (or pay indirectly through an aggregator or publisher that in turns pays reporters directly for quality work).
Posted by Cascadian on February 25, 2013 at 12:26 PM · Report this
21
@14 - Same Here.

The Seattle Times donation to the McKenna campaign motivated me to boycott visiting the Seattle Times' website for the remainder of the campaign... and when the campaign was over, I forgot to go back. I was getting all the news I wanted - without the Times' BS - elsewhere, including most of the places Dominic mentioned.

The News Tribune has recently put up a pay-wall, but that seems like a better way to invest in old-school journalism than giving money to the Seattle Times.
Posted by SuperSteve on February 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Fnarf 22
I'm torn. I quit the Times after the idiotic McKenna ad, and have rejected the repeated calls to resubscribe with pointed comments about the Blethens. BUT, I miss a real local newspaper. No, those various local blogs are not picking up the slack, not even close; the Times, for all its faults, does real, professional, in-depth local reporting like no one else. Publicola is unreadable, The Stranger is (adorably) blinkered, and those neighborhood blogs are at worst unbearable fluff and even at best too understaffed to winkle out the meat. Real news is HARD.

Yeah, the NYT is better -- but it's not better about Seattle and Washington and the Northwest. There is a huge amount of local awareness that disappears when a newspaper goes. It makes me sad. I wish I had the P-I back.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on February 25, 2013 at 12:31 PM · Report this
23
" If they want my money they need to stop attacking and start wooing people like us."

How much do echo chambers cost these days?
Posted by Sugartit on February 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 24
80-90% of the Seattle Times online commenters disappearing sounds like a beautiful dream to me.
Posted by Gern Blanston on February 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM · Report this
JonnoN 25
What 5, 18, 20 said.
Posted by JonnoN http://www.backnine.org/ on February 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
26
They just wrote their own death warrant. It'll be a slow death, but it'll happen faster with a paywall than without.
Posted by RVPMB on February 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
27
Also, what 2, 5 and 18 said.
Posted by RVPMB on February 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this
28
I'm more likely to pay for access to The Stranger and to Slog than to pay for access to Seattle Times. The Times would be far more compelling if they dropped the sports, lifestyle, comics, and syndicated stories, and focused on doing thorough and thoughtful reporting on local news. I often refer to The Stranger as the best paper in town, and I mean it. I run into Cienna and Eli all the time at local events of interest to me. If I want to see what people are saying about something significant around town that just happened, I go to Slog. The Times may do some good reporting, but if they do, it's buried in a sea of crap through which I am unwilling to wade.
Posted by Phil M http://twitter.com/pmocek on February 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Original Andrew 29
The Seattle Slimes should be paying 80% - 90% of their commenters to fook off.
Posted by Original Andrew on February 25, 2013 at 12:46 PM · Report this
30
Your "survey" didn't include an option for me -- a long-time print subscriber (P-I until forced to change...) who will continue to read the on-line STimes for "free." Or better to say No Additional Charge.
Posted by Citizen R on February 25, 2013 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 31
@24 for the win.

Seattle Times for the Epic Fail.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 25, 2013 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 32
Ditto @9: File under The Beauty of Unintended Consequences. The retrograde comment section is run by racists and wingnuts who want service but don't feel as though they should be expected to pay. Buhbye!!!!

@Fnarf. Ageed. I get the NY Times, which is a blessing, but however much I miss the PI, I'd take the ST up on their offer to gain unecumbered access to their website.

We need a daily paper. The Stranger needs a daily paper. news aggregators need dailies. It's worth it - and the free-riding trolls can GGF.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on February 25, 2013 at 1:09 PM · Report this
33
Cmon who else covers local sports
Posted by Seattle14 on February 25, 2013 at 1:15 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 34
I wouldn't read it for free; definitely not going to pay for it.

I get my Seattle news from Slog. I get all my other news from BBC, France 24, Al Jazeera, Talking Points Memo and CBC.
Posted by passionate_jus on February 25, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
35
I would happily pay $20/month to read the Seattle Times online. They should institute this policy immediately. Also, they should raise the price of the print product to $100/month. This will guarantee them long term success and profitability. This is a good idea! Please, Seattle Times, make these changes right away.
Posted by also on February 25, 2013 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 36
Why do traditional newspapers allow comments on their articles? What bonehead marketing major thought that was a good idea? If readers have a strong opinion, they should be required to sit down and compose an email, which would be published in the editorial section.

One of the main reasons I avoid the Times, apart from their vapid content, are the comments. Set up a version where comments are not allowed, and I might actually pay for access.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay http://www.danlangdon.com on February 25, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
watchout5 37
Maybe if it was $4 a year and they promised some journalism. I guess what I'm trying to say is no.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on February 25, 2013 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 38
One more thing, the Tacoma News Tribune has started charging for their online content as well.

http://www.king5.com/news/cities/tacoma/…
Posted by Gern Blanston on February 25, 2013 at 2:07 PM · Report this
39
Not even if they deliver a six pack of Olympia every Friday as a subscriber bonus. Make it Dead Guy Ale and I will go four bucks a week on trial.
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on February 25, 2013 at 2:25 PM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 40
@28 Are you kidding? Used to be that crappy local papers were about little more than sports and real estate. Now that you can look for houses and apartments online, it's just sports. The front section is nothing but Boeing and a couple of crime stories. How many years since their last decent investigative series?

The model is broken. Corporate consolidation is accomplished. Journalism is done. (Beloved crazy local alt-weekly excepted, of course.)
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on February 25, 2013 at 2:28 PM · Report this
eclexia 41
Dominic--

Slog could help a lot of former Seattle Times readers by throwing up a bookmarkable page with the replacement resources you list here.... Call it "Not reading Seattle Times for Breakfast"
Posted by eclexia on February 25, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
cressona 42
I subscribed to the Seattle P-I, and when that paper went bust and I had a chance to shift to a Times subscription, I said no. For me it's a matter of principle. I don't want to support a publication that is hostile to transit and to the municipality in its own name.

And I am a New York Times digital subscriber. For all I read that paper, I consider the $15 a month a bargain. If I were more favorably inclined to the Seattle Times, I could see myself parting with $4 a month.
Posted by cressona on February 25, 2013 at 2:48 PM · Report this
43
Obligatory Almost Live sketch on this subject:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1SCFJKm…
Posted by Zap Rausdower on February 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
44
Almost everyone who comments on Slog admits they never read the Times, and yet somehow are all experts on the quality of the Times' journalism.
Posted by ian on February 25, 2013 at 3:29 PM · Report this
45
"The Times would be far more compelling if they dropped the sports"

they would also instantly lose 60% of their readership
Posted by Reader01 on February 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 46
I buy the print edition sometimes, but I prefer the more Liberal paper, the Wall Street Journal.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on February 25, 2013 at 4:38 PM · Report this
47
The results of this Slog poll have restored my faith in humanity for at least 90 minutes.

Who's up for a street party outside the Seattle Times offices when bankruptcy sets in? I'm thinking the BLETHEN BKO BASH will happen late summer. With some luck, maybe we'll get some synergy with Bumbershoot.
Posted by Che Guava on February 25, 2013 at 4:42 PM · Report this
48
The sad thing is, I would have gladly paid for a digital subscription for over a decade until last October when they announced free advertising for McKenna. I almost wish they had done this last year so that I could have canceled my subscription in protest.

Never giving them a dime until Blethen is gone. The only thing more shameful than the McKenna advertising scheme was blaming it on the marketing department.
Posted by westseattlealki on February 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM · Report this
49
The best part of living in an echo chamber is the music: one mediocre hit covered by 38 artists at the same self-congratulatory pitch.

Here's what the Times gave us lately while the Stranger jerked off:

The Times exposed Rob Holland's serial abuse of public trust and money. The Stranger said nothing. Both publications endorsed Holland. One had the guts to call out the ethical breach.

The Times followed and broadened Publicola's breaker that uncovered a thief pissing away political contributions intended for progressive causes. The Stranger, which theoretically supports progressive causes, said nothing. It's so uncool to embarrass progressive leaders with hard truths.

Posted by Relling on February 25, 2013 at 7:18 PM · Report this
50
@40: "How many years since their last decent investigative series?"

You mean the one that won a Pulitzer just last year?
Posted by Paler on February 26, 2013 at 8:56 AM · Report this

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