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Seth talks to the Spokesman Review

As I've discussed earlier, I was invited to participate in a citizen blogging exercise with the Spokesman-Review, Spokane's only serious local paper. The Review is leading the way nationally with it's interest in citizen blogging, but my current biggest and deal-breaking gripe with The Review is that they foolishly charge you to view their newspaper online. This baffles me for a host of reasons. For one: it completely knocks out my demographic from their readership. I'd wager that the coveted males 18-34 are in the low single digit percent of their subscribers. Which is a real shame actually. They seem to be trying to embrace my wider demographic with the whole blogging thing, but yet they're so clueless with that subscription thing. They almost get it, which is almost more frustrating than them completely not getting it. This recent post by uber market guru Seth Godin all but mentions them by name:

That local paper, the one that struggles to make its subscription and newsstand guarantee every day, wants you to register before you can read an article online. And they want to know a lot about you (your gender, your date of birth) before they will allow you to pay attention to your site.

The same company that runs ads hoping you’ll buy a newspaper that costs more to print than it does to sell, puts up roadblocks to keep you from reading online.


“Pay attention” are the key words. The consumer is already paying. You’re paying with a precious commodity called attention. Instead of fending you off and holding you back, perhaps the newspaper ought to be making it easier to give your precious attention to them…

A quick gut check will probably confirm what many of us truly believe: the number of channels of communication is going to continue to increase. And either you’ll have a channel or you won’t. Either you’ll have access to the attention of the people you need to talk with, (notice I didn’t say talk “at”) or you won’t.

So, the real question to ask isn’t, “how much will I get paid to talk with these people?” The real question is, “how much will I PAY to talk with these people?”

And here's the clincher, he's only talking about forcing readers to register, I think he'd go into cardiac arrest if he knew The Review also required readers to pay a fee to read. It's really just unforgivable.

I have to wonder: if the Review had to make a choice between having me read for free online, or not having me read anything at all, would they opt for the latter? Because they have.

Update: Average age of newspaper readers: 55. Does this bother anyone at the S-R?


Michael K. Campbell

And how. I simply will NOT pay (or even subscribe) to read news. There are simply too many outlets out there that can provide it without making me jump through hoops or give up money. And I spend a significant amount of time reading news on a daily basis.

Lame that they get it in terms of blogging/etc. But just aren't there yet. It's got to be a hard transition for them though. For a long time they WERE the source of information (TV doesn't count - it's just too incredibly banal when it comes to real news (local or otherwise) - and people payed for that clear channel that provided them with information. The internet has clearly changed that - completely. (In fact, look at the number of stories of late of people catching the NYTimes in bold-face lies - and blogging about it. If that doesn't represent a complete paradigm shift, I don't know what does.)

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