Friday, July 29, 2011

A Letter from the Publisher



"Thank you for choosing the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as your trusted, comprehensive source of in-depth local news and information.

[However] Beginning Aug. 3, we will be introducing charges for digital subscriptions for those who do not subscribe to the print edition."

President / Publisher
Honolulu Star-Advertiser



So, let me see if I get this. People who do subscribe to the print edition of Honolulu's only daily newspaper aren't and won't be charged for the digital version. Okay to that. However, does this message mean that non-subscribers won't be allowed to read the online version of the newspaper? The publisher did mention paying does entitle digital subscribers to "premium" content. I surmise this all depends on what's meant by "premium" content or access to it, thereof. Personally I don't see paying to read the digital version online, by the same token, that I don't see paying to watch network tv programs, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. because they make their revenue from the ads that they run, and the advertising rates they charge are based on their viewer ship numbers, for example, me and you. The larger the viewing audience, the more they can charge for a given ad, and that business model has survived as a sound way of doing business with mutual benefits. Paying to have any access at all is downright too proprietary. You might as well pay to read my blog. My 5 loyal regular readers would go somewhere else. Right at the moment, I don't know for certain if the publisher is posting an advance notice that we won't be allowed to read his newspaper online unless we pay for the privilege. Which ain't gonna happen. The me pay part.

19 comments:

Kay said...

Good thing we already subscribe to the hard copy. I sure hope you don't start charging, Ron because then I'd have to raid my piggy bank. :-)

Ann da sista said...

Just happened with my subscription to the New York Times. I think if you didn't have a paper subscription of any kind, you were allowed to access 10 articles a month. After that, you were cut off. I need it for work so we got the Saturday/Sunday edition. $5+ a week but I get all the news--work related and otherwise--that I want from the Times. That being said, NYT is an international paper and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser's not . Curious to see how this one shakes out. I bet they'll retract in some way to be more friendly to the online community.

RONW said...

Kay- I'm still unclear what the publisher meant in the public letter. If he's entertaining himself with visions of dollar signs, he may be disappointed with the end result. Blogs get their revenue based on $70 per 1000 unique readers. For example, Dooce makes $40,000 per month from her personal blog, and she hasn't even hinted at charging a subscription.

Ann- what we need from a local newspaper is 'local news' not so much all the national and world news which essentially amounts to filler material and rehash by the time the newspaper hits the street, or the newspaper's website for that matter. Meanwhile, I don't see why there isn't a local online newspaper already, since, you don't need a printing press facility. Neither have to buy huge rolls of printing paper. The operating expense and initial investment is minimum. Employees can work in pajamas from their homes. Locally, Pierre Omidyar (Ebay owner) already co-founded an online paper but it only covers the city and state legislation matters. Perhaps, they'll branch off to local stories. It's a bigger issue here, because we only have one newspaper in Honolulu.



http://www.civilbeat.com/

OkiHwn said...

I'll give the Hotel a couple cents each month. Post the bank account number and routing code and I'll start an automatic payment. Haha!

RONW said...

Nate-

"I'll give the Hotel a couple cents each month."

You must be refering to "a penny for your thoughts." Okay, 2¢, final offer.

OkiHwn said...

Also the NYT must be a junk source since they only charge $15 versus the $20 which the SA is trying to extort. The SA must be so superior to the NYT.

Mokihana said...

So in odda words: Mokihana on da mainland won't be able to read da pepah on da mainland cuz she no stay subscribed to da pepah copy cuz by da time she going get it da news old awreddy. Go figgah.

RONW said...

Nate- I use to subscribe to the Sunday NYT, and it's definitely better than the SA .... I realize you were using sarcasm. This local guy use to deliver only the Sunday NYT, but couldn't get into the building because he didn't have a security key, and left the paper on top of the security camera at the front entrance. Worked fine as long as it didn't slip my mind and forget to picked it up by 12 o'clock noon. If I had any non-delivery related problems, I'd call a New York number, and they'd get back to the newspaper delivery person. When you think about it, the better writers would prefer to work for NYT, not SA, so better writers equates to better articles. Even with the local NYC stories, there were real professionals on the staff. The Advertiser had I thought a great editorial editor, or whoever the guy who writes the daily opinion piece. Ben Wood, way back, was among the nation's best, with his sports opinion/commentary articles. Nobody in his caliber after he left. I think he retired and moved back to Washington state. I wonder where Lingle is moving to to retire, just like Eileen Anderson. Perhaps, someday we'll elect a local person for mayor or governor. Whoops, getting off topic.

I'm thinking that the local tv stations sooner or later might start up an online newspaper, since they're already set up with the staff and crew to cover local 'news,' and the tv hosts do file written reports anyway on the station's website. There'd be many online Honolulu papers already, with of course, varying levels of competence, if you didn't need bona fide press credentials to be able to access crime and accident scenes and gov't press briefings, etc. Plus, the opportunity would give all the out of work newspaper writers jobs when they're not self-employed picking up aluminium cans and plastic bottles, of which there's a huge pool out there judging by the number of newspapers that have folded, or freelance writers, remember the old 5¢ per word rate. Meanwhile, there's been some local bloggers who've hui-ed together to start an online site but their genre is more social stories, and with all the blogs covering every type of restaurant reviews, annual festivals, cooking, how to boil water, coconut wireless whatever, etc. stories, the hui's website isn't that unique for it to profit from ads on their site at a going rate of $70 per 1000 readers per month and that's a steady stream not flucuating viewer ship. I wouldn't rule out a student editor of the University paper starting up an online local paper, remember the students who started Yahoo. The Advertiser and Star-Bulletin never adapted fast enough to keep pace with the digital revolution. Especially with their classified ads, look at craig's list. For one, they refused to drop their onine classified rates. I wanted to sell something for $70 tops, and the rate was $50 digital. No, can.

RONW said...

Mokihana- the publisher seems deliberately vague in his public letter with the level of access that non-subscribers will be afforded. I think Plan A is to squeeze as much money out of the digital readers. Plan B after Plan A flops, is that he'll end up chasing readers and kissing their okoles to get them back. Ah, the disadvantages of being a one newspaper town.

RONW said...

Nate- [edit] it wasn't a "Ben" Wood, but some other Wood.

owner said...

Had not previously heard of "Dooce". Just checked it out.

You have GOT to be kidding.

RONW said...

owner- remember the old expression "don't quit your day job," the friendly reminder to bloggers with disillusions of earning a living in their pajamas through the magic of blogging, well, what's that gotta do with Dooce's career to say the least. In my case, I don't even read her posts, just click in to see what Chuck is up to. I don't think she even studied writing. It was more of she had a natural voice for blogging and able to hit the right notes. She's been on Good Morning America as well as made cameo appearances on a few others tv morning shows. Published two best-selling books catapulted by her popularity as a blogger.

Venomous Kate was even better IMHO, but she never quite soared to the same heights as Dooce, probably because she quite drinking martinis and grew fat. I use to follow her blog when she lived in Honolulu working as an attorney before her military husband got stationed at another army base somewhere in Kansas. Plus her current topics are mid-life crisis issues. I liked the old Kate better. RIP. Still some burst of the former self here (Friday, July 22nd, 2011).

As an side, I've been led to conclude that the blogosphere is bias against male authors and partial in favor of women bloggers. When a female imbues a tone of a damsel in distress into the words of her post, whether intentionally or by natural swooning, women relate to her plight and flock to her side, and men transform into white knights galloping to her rescue before the train runs her over on the tracks.

Take for example, What Would Jack Do, authored by a self-professed bi-polar and borderline schez possibly due from head bruises incurred from playing high school quarterback. I'll extend him the benefit of the doubt that he was wearing a helmet. Excellent writer, with a few thousand regular readers, but alas, even on a good day, never the tens of thousands readers that Dooce amassed. Example, here (July 31, 2011).

Anyways, getting back to why there aren't more individually operated online newspapers in existence today, here I'm referring to 'local news.' With all the blogs out there, it isn't incumbent anymore for an online newspaper to publish all them human interest stories to fill up Section E. Just the latest bad news, or good news happening in the local community. In that sense, the work load is minimum.

Hattie said...

Blogging is no way to make a living. I think it's the wrong reason to blog. Dooce is willing to expose herself for the sake of making a good living, and that's her business. But it's not mine. Unlike her, I'm not young and I'm not crazy, and young and crazy is what draws in the fans and advertisers.
As to the NYT: We can't get it where we are except late and by mail. I read it on my Kindle from time to time. It is getting less and less interesting: too much fluff for what's supposed to be the newspaper of record. It's even beginning to strike me as provincial. New York is not the center of the universe, and I get especially tired of reading about the dilemmas of Manhattan Yuppies.

RONW said...

Hattie- btw, Dooce is a Mormon. No, seriously. So as you would expect, she's had her share of strife within her religious community. Now that I think about it, did she quit the Mormons in pursuit of the dollar, forget already? Perhaps, if Mitt Romney wins the Presidency, it'll provide her some salvation.

In the real world, the odds of making a living through blogging are about the same as winning the lottery and many who've aspired indeed have fallen by the wayside, actually flopped is a better word. They became copy boys, Jimmy Olsens, instead of Clark Kents of their own daily planets. I think the inability to meet deadlines was the majory issue. But then, if you're able to make a few hundred dollars a month on the side through blogging, it ain't all that bad, a thousand even.

It's not all that easy too. You have to maintain a webmaster to keep things ship shape and oh yeah pay the person. And you have to have your own server, or contract out, or otherwise you'd exceed the monthly allotment of bandwidth from Blogger, etc., in a matter of days. And I don't imagine that successful bloggers in the high money category are as crazy as they make themselves out to be, probably more of pretend crazy.

Plus, I know of at least one successful blogger that refused to run ads on his sidebars. Another formula was to hold annual fun raisers campaigns, er, donations. Glenn Reynolds, a Tenneesee professor started it years ago, and received $75,000 in kind from his viewers. However he blogs (on political matters) prolifically, filing in more posts in a singe day than the average blogger does in a month.

I haven't read the NYT in a while now. I see your point about it getting too new yorky in the negative sense. My post was about the absense or why there's no versions of online local newspapers, independently operated, since publishing is all virtual nowadays. It puzzles me why we 'still' have to get breaking news, good or bad, from the tv or the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, when most of it consists of nothing more that press releases, from some city or state department's or company spokes person. A hypothetical online newspaper could dispense with the editorials totally, and with blogs I already read, I get more human interest stories than I need.

OkiHwn said...

That's why Civil Beat is a good source!

RONW said...

Nate- might only be me, but I can't see why Civil Beat doesn't cull together all the good-news-bad-news local stories and post them on their website. Like I said, the news stories are only press releases, but unfortunately, you need offical press credentials to get access to the public briefings. I don't read nor need the social section of the Star-Advertiser neither the gossip column. And with an online paper, who needs the daily editorial which use to serve as the piece de resistance of most dailies, its editor, the standard baerer of democracy or some moniker fitting to the "newspapers are the rough draft of history" service to the public.

I guess the gist is news is news and at least online they can dispense with all rest of the pomp and circumstance which only amounts to fodder, filler material, wasted ink, or wasted pixel in the case of a digital version, prolixity was the term in grammarical parlance, if memory serves. Ever noticed, instead of a simple 'Barry' .... "Barack Obama, Presidente of the United States, along with his bozo wife, Michelle Obama, dressed in a Pierre du Mairer outfit wearing a coconut hat, arrived yesterday on Air Force One at Hickam Air Force Base at 5am PST in Honolulu before departing to ...." Btw, I'm starting to get annoyed even irritated by that lame name. Star-Advertiser, no can.

OkiHwn said...

Me? I just check out the pretty wahines in Pulse.

RONW said...

Nate- you had me going for a minute. Thought it might be an independent publisher I was totally unawares of. I googled the site an apparently it's a Star-Advertiser section. KITV sends me notices about a sorta similar site, but too many ads there.

OkiHwn said...

It's been three weeks now since the SA went "money hungry" and I really don't miss it. Almost every story becomes a "Feature" story. But I really just view the "Breaking News" which has a pretty full story, and which is still free. Now I go to "Hawaii News Now" which is the web page of a couple TV stations. Good enough to keep abreast of what's happening in Hawaii.