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You’re not getting the whole story

You may or may not have noticed the new yellow banner we’ve placed atop the Chronicle’s website. This banner, pictured above, is intended to encourage readers to subscribe to the print edition or to the E-Chronicle.

We added the banner at the request of our corporate owners, who want us to make sure that we’re promoting our most profitable products, the ones people pay for.

You see, in case you didn’t know it, the newspaper business having a rough time. The proliferation of news online and a drop in the value of advertising online have made the paper news far less profitable. Many newspapers have closed, and some cities have been left without any newspapers at all.

Many in the industry blame the Web and the straw men “aggregators,” sites that use RSS feeds and other technologies to collect headlines and excerpts and republish them. Google often gets lumped in with the aggregators, even though Google has probably done more to save newspapers than newspapers have.

After more than a decade of “free” news online, we now find ourselves in an unhappy situation, in which we are compelled to remind the public that reporting doesn’t come free.

When told by corporate that we must include such a message on our site, the Chronicle chose to do this with a banner at the top of our website — the alternative was an animated .gif. (I hate those.) We also gave readers the option of closing that banner if they want to. It will reappear again in a few days, of course, but you can mostly make it go away if you want to.

Some have said the banner is gaudy and off-putting. If you think so, please let me know if the comments. I’m open to suggestions for improvement.

Others have told me they feel like the banner is a slap in my face as the Chronicle’s first Web Editor. I appreciate the concern. I don’t like the fact that we have to have a banner there either, but I understand the need to make money and keep the doors open and the reporters writing. It’s a necessary evil.

If you have comments about the banner, please let me know. I’m eager to know what you think. Also, given the subject, I thought I’d toss in a poll on a related subject.

(Note, we’re not getting rid of the website. This is a “what if” scenario, but I hope that you’ll vote honestly and tell all your friends to vote too.)