Friday, May 27, 2011
The CA takes a Great Leap; is it into the abyss?
While Chris Peck had alluded to the prospect of some CA online content going behind a paywall back in January, the cat was let out of the bag by Mark Richens on Twitter Thursday afternoon:
This is big. @memphisnews is going to a 100% paid model. only 10 free clicks a month. $9.99/mo. for full digital access.
Well, my response was quick and to the point , saying that I would miss them, or Calkins, at least. Ok, my typical smart-ass response, although, to be truthful, I DO have problems with this idea, Then I got this response from Jen Simmons, the stellar tweeter for the CA and a terrific writer in her own right, which made me feel terribly guilty.
Look, I like a lot of people over there, from Calkins and the best sports section in the country, Wendi Thomas, and the reporters like Zack McMillin and Amos Maki. The problem that I have with the CA is that the management (Hi Chris Peck) seems too worried about offended suburbanites to put enough resources into covering the CITY. They also don't run enough stories by Richard Locker, their one-person Nashville bureau who would be as celebrated as the Knoxville News-Sentinel's Tom Humphrey if he were given the inches to do so. (Note: I have never met Mr. Locker, just read him for years.)
However, on a daily basis, there are four people who, on a day-to-day basis, beat the crap out of the CA reporters: John Branston and Jackson Baker of the Flyer, and Bill Dries and Andy Meek of the Daily News. (Full disclosure: Jackson is the reason I am linked at the Flyer, and I do receive a lot of hits from their site.)
I have been reading newspapers since I was 4 years old. No, really. I grew up reading the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Daily News, and I know what a paper ought to be. I nearly went into journalism. To me, there are few things more important for a major metro area than a strong daily newspaper, and we really haven't had one for years. Scripps, the parent company of the Commercial Appeal, has used the paper as a cash cow over the years, virtually eviscerating the Newspaper Guild.
If they still need revenue, where is it going? It's not the paper I grew up with, and I am not sure that I am at all comfortable with paying for online content, or even a subscription to the dead-tree edition so I can get free online access.