Sunday, October 07, 2012

Cincinnati Enquirer's New Online Subscription Model

Last week The Cincinnati Enquirer began a new subscription model for those wishing to read the paper online.  Responding to the changing readership patterns fostered by a myriad of electronic devices, Cincinnati’s sole daily newspaper has adopted a model already embraced by some other major national publications.  Now those wishing to read articles online will be able to read a limited number without paying for a subscription.  In any given month that number of articles is twenty.  Want to read more that month and you must pay.

For several years, newspapers have been struggling with how to monetize delivery of online material.  In the early years of web publication, newspapers looked at online content as a novelty.  It was something that only a relatively few technically adroit readers would find useful.  Jumping ahead to 2012 we find the landscape much different.  The number of daily “paper and ink” publications is shrinking and paid readership of those still publishing is also on the wane.  Even award winning newspapers like the New Orleans Times Picayune no longer publish a hard copy version every day of the week.

Last Year the New York Times adopted this online subscription model.  I subscribe to the New York Times and can read it on my Kindle, smart phone or computer.  I have also been a subscriber to the WallStreet Journal online edition.   The latter was never offered free on line.

I signed up for the online version of the Enquirer.  So far I am impressed.  The Enquirer has adopted a point and click navigation system for reading the newspaper.   You can read the paper page by page as the online version has the same page layout and format used in the print edition.   You also have the choice of reading the articles in a regular text format.  Using this method allows you to copy and paste the article from the newspaper into a word document or email.

Unlike, the Enquirer’s website, which is filled with intrusive display ads that dominate the page and make reading articles painful, the Enquirer’s E-newspaper contains only the ads as they would be seen in the printed edition.  You can click on them to make them larger but if you choose to ignore them they blend into the page.  This may not be good news for the advertisers but it is a real plus for the reader.  Let’s hope that the intrusive ads remain on only.

While it is a positive sign that the Enquirer is providing these online options, the key to future acceptance and success will be what they deliver, not how they deliver it. 

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