Denver Media: Pay Walls and Nonprofit Alliances

November 4 2009, 12:04 PM
Across the nation, most daily newspapers give away their news for free online. That includes papers run by the Denver-based MediaNews Group chain, which owns The Denver Post and several other print publications throughout Colorado and the nation. But starting next year, readers will have to pull out their wallets and pony up---at least for some content at two of MediaNews' papers: the Enterprise-Record in Chico, California, and the Daily Record in York, Pennsylvania, according to Editor & Publisher. Still, MediaNews CEO Dean Singleton has not signaled that the chain's Web sites will become a pay-only universe. "We don't think putting everything behind a pay wall works, but we think putting some things behind a pay wall works," he says, adding, "We have to condition readers that everything is not free." The reaction from a critic at NBC Bay Area is harsh, pointing out that newspapers have tried before to charge for online content, only to fail miserably---even the mighty New York Times, which once charged readers to view columns by the popular Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman. Sixty-six percent of participants in a poll at MediaBistro say if newspapers charge readers online, readers will "flee to other free sources" on the Internet. Meanwhile, KBDI 12 is planning a nonprofit investigative news operation---that is, if the station can raise $400,000 to get it off the ground, reports The Associated Press. Westword media critic Michael Roberts takes a closer look at the hopeful new venture.