Online newspapers- what you’re actually paying for

I’ve heard lots of grumbling over the past couple of years whenever another newspaper puts a paywall up on their site.  People have become accustomed to surfing the web and digesting whatever information they’d like to freely, and many see paying for online news as antithetical to their basic right to roam on the world wide web.

But if you think about it, it makes sense.  Online newspapers offer what their print predecessors cannot-interactivity through engaging multimedia. If people paid for simple text and photos before (not to belittle the hard work that goes into producing a print product) why should they feel robbed when they’re charged for seeing/experiencing content that may have taken days, weeks, or even months to put together?

Not to mention, newspapers have to stay afloat somehow. And many aren’t because they haven’t figured out a web model of providing information that people might willingly pay for.

With all that in mind, I do believe that if a publication is to charge for their online content, it should have a quality multimedia value to it.  Online subscribers deserve to have a different experience than they do when they open up the paper every morning. I think that some papers have jumped the gun, believing they have to keep up with the Joneses, and they’re charging for material that lacks the interactive oomph that other publications make a point to supply.

Since I’ve been reading online news I’ve always appreciated the multimedia the New York Times provides with many of their stories. They usually have galleries and videos for articles that should have those accompanying elements.

To see what I mean, check out their coverage/videos/photos of Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath here.

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