There’s some very good stuff in PressThink: Two Letters in Reply to “A Little Detail in the Sale of About.com” from local newspaper operators. Two highlights:
From Mike Phillips, editorial development director for Scripps-Howard Newspapers:
Permalinking makes the site better, but a blanket permalinking policy would be wasteful.
As we talked about this, our online general manager, Bob Benz, said a lot of an intensely local newspaper’s content has no tail potential – that is, nobody’s ever going to want to access it again after the usual seven-day expiration date.
I counter proposed with what I dubbed the Phillips-Benz Continuum. At the right end of the continuum is obits– surely the example of local content with the longest tail. At the left end is a story about a proposed sewer project moving from one level of administrative review to another– surely a story with no tail at all. All the other content is in between. After a bit of rigorous measurement and discussion, surely a newspaper could calculate where on the continuum, on the average day, permalinking should start.
And from the publisher of the Daily Peg:
As far as our model, we intend to be fully searchable, but think that there is a middle ground between freely available and walled off. We’re still working it out, but our thought is that you can Google us and read any story you want for free and without registering, but you’re limited to x number of stories a day at that level (“x” being something greater than one and less than the whole site.)
The idea is that registration, and maybe even subscription is crucial to our ad model. But, the ads are primarily local — and its locals that will primarily use us every day multiple times per day. (We hope!) So why should I hassle you in New York with registration in order to monetize serving up an ad for a Chinese restaurant in East Dallas that does neither you nor the restaurateur any good. I can’t imagine a lot of folks out of market wanting to read more than a couple things a day on our site — and if they do, that’s another business altogether.