Saturday, April 02, 2005

An irritating web peeve

I can understand subscribing to web-only news publications for money. Heck, I pay my $35/year for Salon - even though they have been allowing access for free if you watch an ad first. I can also see it making sense when the online edition of a print publication offers additional information and extra articles. And I don't mind web publications that make you register first - though I always use bizarrely faked info and/or just use www.bugmenot.com - if somebody wants to extract information from me in exchange for giving my what I want it's OK.

What really irritates me is when online publications require you to subscribe in order to get the exact same stuff that's in the dead-tree version. Time Magazine (and most of the Time-Warner family) does that - only releasing a smidgen of their articles online. And the local news conglomerate up here (run by the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) does that as well - they let you read the front-page articles and the editorials for free, but to read anything else you have to subscribe to the paper. Which is really stupid of them - because if I've read it in the paper why should I give a crap about finding it online?

This is on my mind because of the recent redesign of the Eagle-Tribune's various websites - they look prettier, but now they give you even less info than before. Until the redesign you could read the front page news, sports, editorials, and letters, along with a daily specials section. Just local news and obits were withheld.

Now that it's just front page news and editorial (which has now become predictably right-wing), I hardly even bother viewing the site during the week - I know that the odds are against actually getting anything useful there. I still buy the dead-tree version on Fridays (when most of the best stuff runs), but their changes will have the net effect of lowering their impressions, rather than increasing them. Kind of stupid, don't you think?

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