By: Tammy Daniels On: 03:34PM / Friday August 12, 2011
Local newspapers operated by Denver-based MediaNews Group are going behind a paywall next week. The North Adams Transcript and two of the company's Vermont papers, the Bennington Banner and the Brattleboro Reformer, announced the new subscription service on Friday.
The regional flagship, The Berkshire Eagle, is apparently not involved in this round but will likely join the smaller papers if the experiment works.
Current subscribers of the newspapers will be offered a $19.99 year fee for online access; an online only subscription will cost $59.99 a year. You'll get five page views a month before the wall appears asking you to subscribe.
MediaNews Group has been looking at implementing paywalls for nearly two years, starting first in California and Pennsylvania last year. CEO Dean Singleton said in February that traffic at those papers has stayed steady but subscriptions haven't gone up.
What will continue to be "free" are the classifieds, obituaries and social announcements, all basically paid advertising sections. You'll also be able view headlines on the home pages.
MediaNews isn't alone in trying to find a way to make online news pay. The industry's been hammered by high overhead, declining circulation and an online landscape that's created a banquet of news sources for readers to browse.
Here at iBerkshires.com (which has absolutely no affiliation with the local newspaper group and which is locally owned and staffed), we will continue to provide news in as timely a manner as possible and we won't make you pay to read it. In fact, the iBerkshires family is growing with the addition of some truly hyperlocal sites like www.williamstown.com that we hope you will not only read but also contribute to.
The way we access information has changed dramatically in the past decade. iBerkshires is experimenting not with paywalls but with community forums that will allow readers to contribute content — an accident, an event, a neat photo. We're also working through our Facebook pages and Twitter feed to encourage readers to comment on and inform their neighbors on what's happening.
If you like what we're doing, then thank our advertisers by clicking on their ads and using their services. You'll be supporting local businesses, the local economy, and local news.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
As some that used to live in North Adams, I like to pop on a few times a week during my lunch to keep up with goings on. I refuse to pay for an online service that doesn't apply to my life anymore. That's too bad. It's not the dang NY Times or Boston Globe here, it's a 50 cent 8 page fluff piece.
Iberkshires - I just wanted to say that I go to your site throughout the day and I enjoy reading your articles and hope you will not follow the Trashrag. You are very professional and have articles posted long before the others. Keep up the good work.
Editor: We have great respect for our colleagues over at the Transcript, not that we don't love scooping the daylights out of them whenever possible. We sincerely believe more news is better; we like when our front page is completely different than theirs. It means people have options! I Agree (6) - I Disagree (0)
Let's not ignore the obvious ... that publishing a newspaper involves paper ... and ink ... and delivery. It all costs money and if we want our community to have a decent newspaper, we need to buy it or pay for it online. Wouldn't hurt if more businesses advertised in it.
I understand the need, but I wouldn't pay to read the Transcript. I lost interest in the paper when they jumped in the back pocket of the former Mayor. My opinion would be for the Transcript to follow the model of iBerkshires and dump the paper and ink version.
The problem with the Transcript is both editorial and circulation. There's a real lack of real incisive reporting on local news. And for years they have been plagued by rotten delivery - who needs a paper tossed casually from the window of a car to somewhere in the vicinity of your house. They have cut costs to the bone and are not about to make up for their self induced decline with an online pay gate.
well, let's be honest, you guys at iberkshires also love linking to the eagle, the transcript and the banner and now you will have to actually get out there and cover news, not just link to others work. Did you not, in the past, try posting your competitor's videos, until they imbedded their own name onto the video?
Editor: We offer an RSS feed of news of interest that includes the papers and a Twitter feed that includes links to them and the local TV news stations. OMG, we're SENDING them traffic! We rarely link within stories because the papers put their work behind a paywall after a few days and we don't feel that's fair to readers; we do link to other websites all the time. It's the Internet, you know.
Of course we get out and cover news! Who do you think is writing the articles on this site?
"Try posting" videos? We did and do post videos that were uploaded to YouTube. That's the point of YouTube. It's not our fault the papers failed to put their own names on their work. Providing an embed code gives permission to embed the work. They can use ours whenever they want because we always allow an embed code so people will post our stuff. I Agree (7) - I Disagree (1)
what i read in your plans is a mechanism to get the community to write your paper and you all not have to pay for the reporting who will corroborate what is sent to you, who will verify that the photos submitted or accidents viewed are being shared accurately? Who takes the fall if one of your citizen reporters gets it wrong? Sounds like you guys are trying to get something for nothing and then call it "news"
Editor: We corroborate what is sent to us. We take the fall. The way we access information is changing, and we want to be on the cutting edge. If you want to wait for us to spoonfeed you news, so be it. Don't participate; nobody's making you. But we believe news should be from the bottom up, not the top down. I also find it amusing that if I call someone and ask them something it's news, but if they post the information on iBerkshires themselves, it's not. We're just reducing the role of the middleman. PS: we don't have a paper. I Agree (6) - I Disagree (0)
As a journalist, you are supposed to have a professional standard, at one time it was two coroborrating sources, for a significant amount of information and/or allegations to be published. Journalists had to do a little home work and get their facts confirmed before printing their stories. I believe I read people could submit and post on your site. Again I ask who is going to be sure the information is accurate. If you are going to filter evrything, how will that be timely? And I thought you were a journalist but if you don't see your abilities as any better than the joe on the street, perhaps you are not. But I hold my opinion, what you want is to get the community to write your site for you. For free
Editor: You seem to think we'll be allowing anyone who feels like it to post investigative pieces. That's not what we're going for. But a picture of a fire or accident, an update that the paving's completed on your street, reports from a block party, telling where there's a great place to hike - that's what we're encouraging. That give us time to do the tougher stuff.
Besides, where do you think a lot of that content in the papers — and on iBerkshires — comes from? It's press releases! Organizations and state agencies already give us that stuff; why is their voice more important than your neighbor's, or yours for that matter?
The world's changing. Anyone can put up a blog and report on anything they want. Our job more and more will be separating the wheat from the chaff, to become news curators as much news reporters.
You call it writing for free; we call it providing a platform for free for the community to express itself and talk about the issues that are important them.
Clancy, it's been my experience of iBerkshires that they GO to the meetings or incidents that they write about - as opposed to The Transcript's practice of reporting from video records created by others. iBerkshires puts boots on the ground.
As for "community notes", I see no problem with taking input from the community. Tammy Daniels is nobody's fool.
In contrast, The Transcript has oft been noted to report on RUMORS.
Do you know a newspaper that checks ALL the information received all the time?One has to sacrifice accuracy if people want ALL the news quickly. I'm not saying it's right, but it happens.
If iBerkshire doesn't check the "joe on the street",then I agree with you about accuracy, but what's wrong with a little help_people do it voluntarily, so why blame iBerkshire's?
all news outlets follow rumors, also known as "tips" and if the rumors turn out to be factual, a story results even iberkshires tracks tips until proven true or proven false the most recent Transcript "rumor" may have been the possible health issues surrounding MGRHS, now that was some real journalism!Boots on the ground there, for sure!
Real journalism is about facts, and material to back them up with. The whole story, from stem to stern.
The Transcript falls short on this. I once heard a reporter complain that it wasn't possible to "fast forward" on a video online (that was being reported from...). That struck me as NOT REAL JOURNALISM.
Cutting corners for profit will never yield a good result, especially when it comes to local news.
ALL politics begins locally, with every word, every nuance. In the good old days, there were correspondents.
Now, poor well-meaning young cub reporters are being encouraged to scrub every ideal they ever had.
I look at Iberkshires, Transcript, Boston Globe, USA Today, CNN, MSNBC every day online. I won't pay for any of them. That's the price I pay for being bombarded with pop up, banner and video ads. There's a lot of options to get the news free. Seventy years ago is was by social networking. One neighbor talked to another on their porches.
Editor: At least no pop-ups here. I like your social media comparison; we'd like to be the high-tech front porch. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (0)
This ridiculous idea of NENI is doomed to failure. How many other larger papers tried this only to revoke it once they saw their numbers plummet? Boston Herald, for one. They tried it, it failed miserably, and now you can peruse all you want again. No one was willing to pay to read Howie Carr online, or any other story. If the Eagle and Transcript had online sites more in line with iBerkshires way of reporting - that is, when an event occurs, not a day later - they could be competitive. They have a lot more reporting staff than iBerkshires, and still can't keep up. Good work, Tammy.
Looking at old copies of the transcript from the 1960's and 1950's, they had 1+ pages of local content, local meetings, weddings/anniversaries etc. They covered the news. If they had content like that now I'd gladly pay a dollar a day for it, but no such luck. Paying anything now? Funny.
Due to the MBAs running the Transcript and Eagle they have very few people actually doing reporting. It's now a vehicle for advertisers, mostly an associated press mashup. And other posters have mentioned the delivery issues when you try to get a paper delivered to your house.
I hope the editors of those papers read this and take it to heart. In the mean time, Iberkshires will be the place to go.
Editor: How funny, I was just going through some very old Transcripts and noted how they had columns full of one-sentence/paragraph news items that would have been perfect for Twitter. Maybe we're coming full circle here. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (0)
fyi to all, just deleting cookies, closing and re-opening your browser does indeed work......I have been viewing without interuption all day.
Five views per month should work. Thats about as often as they update the paper anyway. I especially like checking out the Mystery Photos, which are truly that in many cases... there's no photo!As I like to tell the person on the phone who occasionally likes to try and sell me a subscription the print Transcript, "No thanks! I'm not planning on wrapping any fish today"!
I worked at the Transcript in the late 60's and early 70's. Started out in the press room below ground on Bank St. The difference was the people were professionals who cared about their craft and their community.
Editor: They're still professionals, there's just far fewer of them. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I take it you knew those people at the Transcript then as well? I admit I know very few of the present staff but it seems all the staffing and editorial decisions come out of a corp entity somewhere in Denver, I believe?
Editor: I do know those people at the Transcript well. I was managing editor for a couple years after time at the Eagle and Banner. The papers are owned by MediaNews Group, whose flagship is the Denver Post. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
They may carry the title "professional", but the key phrase in my post was, "who cared about their craft and their community."
"...and an online landscape that's created a banquet of news sources for readers to browse."...
And what better time to implement such hurdles to jump over for access to your content? Brilliant! If anything newsworthy happens in N Adams I'm sure I'll learn about it on iBerkshires.com long before I even think to visit The Transcript's website.