"Having to pay for the Internet page is ridiculous. Other local, national, and international newspapers provide their stories for free online. By not doing so you are alienating your readers. It's not like there aren't ads all over the page generating revenue. I do like the paper, I'm just a little bitter about this."
- Matthew Brannon, NJ
"Miss the online access without subscription. At first, registering was enough, but then it went to subscription. Still, I surf the daily news blurbs and get general news from the accessible articles."
Scott Mikusko, CA
"I stopped reading online as much since you started charging for content. I really think charging hurts your readership more than it helps you financially. If more people are reading your online site you can certainly recoup the lost subscription fee with advertising. At least the daily news on the right side bar is still accessible. Thank you for keeping that free at least."
This was the most frequent comment or criticism that we received in this year's survey. I rather expected it, but it was still an unpleasant surprise to find out how unhappy people were with the decision.
When we first decided to do it, back in late 2004, we were worried about a slow but steady drop in the print circulation of around 6,000 copies that we suspected was due to the fact all our content was available on the Internet.
For a small circulation paper like ours, it is crucial that we fight for every print copy reader, because it is on the basis of these audited figures that advertisers buy space. Given that advertising represents over 80 percent of our income, our circulation figures are in a very tangible sense vital to our existence. That's why we couldn't ignore what was happening.
Those among you who noted that some large newspapers offer their content free on-line are right - some do. An equal number don't. I don't see into their decision-making, but it was clear to me that until the Slovak Internet advertising market matures, we will have to find some other way to make the Internet version pay, as it costs us money to produce, and undercuts the revenue we make from print circulation and print advertising.
I would like to be able to say that we have reconsidered this policy and will be offering free online content from now on, but that would be an irresponsible and irrational decision. The best I can do is to change our locking policy - maybe lock only current issue articles, or the opposite. I'm open to suggestions - but we need to fight for every crown, and I'm very grateful to the people who do subscribe to the web version.
6. Nov 2006 at 0:00