$$$ OC Register brings back Paywall $$$

Posted by on September 15, 2016 9:07 am
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Categories: Column 2

Update 10:04 am: Paywall up with Chrome and Opera browsers, not up with Firefox and Edge (Windows machine).

By John Seiler

This morning I noticed the Orange County Register brought back its Paywall. You can’t get to most of the stories unless you’re a paid subscriber and enter your name, rank and serial number. It costs “as little as $9.95 a month.”

I think that’s a mistake.

But then, if they wanted my opinion, they would not have laid me off back on July 21. Nice appreciation by Gustavo Arellano here.

When I link to Register stories on Seiler Report, I’ll precede them with a $ sign. I’m going to do the same thing with the LA Times, which has erected a similar paywall.

I’ll also prefer, when possible, other stories that are free so my readers don’t have to put up with the hassle of inputing passwords. Web surfing should be as free-flowing as possible.

Such a system has been proven not to work, including with the Register itself. As Arellano reported on April 1, 2014:

“In a desperate bid to stop their revenue free-fall, the Orange County Register announced today the debut of a new paywall to replace the one it erected about a year ago, the one that owners swore would be impenetrable but has become increasingly porous as of late.

“This new paywall promises to revolutionize the newspaper industry, says Register Minister of Information Eric Morgan: it’s going to be “‘freer.'”

The Paywall later went down.

Since then, the Register went belly up a second time and was scooped up by Digital First Media, which took over April 1 this year. Even that link in my last sentence for an archived Register story almost six months old now is behind the Paywall. So here’s a Politico story for free.

That’s the problem: Just about anything the Paywall papers post is available elsewhere for free with a Google search. International, national and even state stories can be read elsewhere the night before. Sports stories, including for high schools, are covered by free fan sites within seconds of events.

Even the New York Times can’t make a Paywall pay.

The only exception seems to be financial papers, in particular the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the OC Business Journal, which come with deep archives on corporations and other financial news. People always will pay money to make money.

I sympathize with my old newspaper. They need revenue.

But the new Paywall won’t work any better than the old Paywall.

There’s an old libertarian slogan: Information wants to be free. If you doubt that, look at Wikileaks and what’s happening to Hillary’s emails.

Here’s what greets readers who click on Register stories today:

The Orange County Register

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