‘You’d do better business if you just gave me your product for free’

Reader [Dan Trombley wrote to us this morning on Facebook](https://www.facebook.com/dailychronicle/posts/189607507834486?comment_id=481333&offset=0&total_comments=8) to criticize the digital subscriptions we offer:

> Have you noticed your online readers have declined, Chronicle? It really does suck not being able to view a damn article because I read 7 in a month, and do not want to pay for the “online subscription”….Limit it to 7 articles a week, and you’ll notice a positive change.

This is just one in a string of similar notes and emails I received over the weekend. All have the same basic message:

> It’s a travesty that you want us to pay for this. I don’t like you anyhow. You’re not worth my time. I won’t be subscribing.

I’ll use Trombley’s post as an example since it’s possibly the most civil and printable I received.

As I have been doing with these user comments on this blog, I’m going to take this one line by line.

> Have you noticed your online readers have declined, Chronicle?

No.

I have noticed that the week-over-week stats are very consistent with what they were before we launched the metering system on our site. The number of comments has declined somewhat, and for some reason engagement on Facebook has declined a bit too. However, our number of pageviews, visits and Facebook followers remains consistent. It is really too soon at only two weeks out from launch for the analytics data to show any meaningful change in our traffic.

> It really does suck not being able to view a damn article because I read 7 in a month

You should buy a subscription for unlimited access to the site.

> and do not want to pay for the “online subscription”

Oh. Well, you’ve got a problem there.

> Limit it to 7 articles a week, and you’ll notice a positive change.

I’ll bet we would. I’ll bet we’d get an even more “positive change” if we just gave them all away for free. Heck, I’d bet we’d get more subscribers if we just gave the newspaper away for free too, while we’re at it.

Look, just because you hit our meter’s limit, sir, doesn’t mean the meter is set too low. It means you are reading so much of our content that you probably ought to be paying for it. It means you are a **regular reader**.

Mr. Trombley, we are not looking to inconvenience you any more than the barrista at the coffee shop is looking to inconvenience you by asking you to pay for that latte.

2 Replies to “‘You’d do better business if you just gave me your product for free’”

  1. Pretty miserable, I alerted my own local paper when I realized how to get around their paywall and was verbally attacked by someone on Twitter because that’s how they were stealing news articles. 

    It’s happening everywhere. As a photographer – everyone wants the shot for free because after all, it’s free to make a digital photograph. And then of course you have the cell phone photographers giving it away for credit.

    Credit don’t pay the bills.

    1.  All paywalls are porous to an extent, from the New York Times on down. The tech-savvy readers are going to figure out a way around them, no matter what we do. In fact, we design them to allow some cheating. It makes for a better and more flexible system overall.

      However, there are people out there who would suggest that just because a few breaths of wind get through the wall that we should take the whole thing down and let in the gale. I don’t get paid to agree with that outlook. I get paid to make the best of this new situation that nobody really likes.

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