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DEAR READER: The Missourian launches a digital suite of apps

Sunday, August 26, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:59 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Reader,

Monday will mark a significant step for the Columbia Missourian as it launches new products for tablet and smart phone reading, and a new way of supporting the production of the news on all platforms.

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With the Missourian digital suite, you will be able to download apps for the iPhone and iPad and for all Android-based phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S III, and tablets, like the Kindle Fire. The apps (computer speak for applications) are designed to be easier on the eye and easier to navigate than reading the website version.

Research has shown that we use the devices in different ways, after all. The Missourian apps allow me to swipe from article to article and from section to section, while the website continues to be a mouse click operation. Tablets are known to be more of a “lean-back” experience vs. the “lean forward” of PCs, which suggests a more leisurely pace of reading on my iPad than on my laptop.

Photo galleries are just plain better on the apps than on the website. On my iPad I can see each photo full frame with the remarkable definition tablets have these days. (The print edition still beats both, in my opinion: I can see multiple photos at the same time with a design built to match each particular photo story.)

The point, though, is you can read news in whatever platform most pleases you at the moment.

That’s not exactly cutting edge. It is a necessary move to keep up with changing reader demands.

Charging for content is hardly new, either. Readers have paid for the newspaper for most of the Missourian’s nearly 104 years. Several decades ago, paid and free versions of the print edition became popular.

As you know, most newspapers began providing free content online when this little thing called the World Wide Web went mainstream. The trend is tipping the other way. One of the early adopters was the Columbia Daily Tribune, which launched a subscription system almost a year before* The New York Times.

The reason is simple: Unlike the former, free, print Missourian Weekly, which was paid for through lots of advertising, businesses are taking their ad dollars many more places, including their own websites.

The Tribune’s system has become popular among newspapers. You can read a certain number of articles per month — 10 in the Tribune’s case — but have to subscribe for total access.

“The public has spoken, and public has said we will pay for news if there’s a high value to the content and presentation,” said Guy Tasaka, a digital news expert who worked with the Reynolds Journalism Institute to create the Missourian’s new system.

The Missourian’s change to a pay model is consistent with industry trends; its method, with everything free for the first 24 hours of publication, is experimental and reflects a core mission of this newspaper to test innovative practices for the news industry.

Tasaka created the digital suite and the business concept to go with it. So far as Tasaka can find, the Missourian is the first general purpose newspaper in the country to adopt the model.

You can read everything on columbiamissourian.com for free for the first 24 hours. An article reporting on a City Council action Monday night is free until Tuesday night. Another article published Tuesday at 9 a.m. is free until Wednesday at 9 a.m.

You might be surprised how much gets published every day. Most of the overnight notes I receive every morning report the volume. For Election Day on Aug. 7, for instance, 45 articles, 27 photos and five photo galleries were published.

After the first 24 hours though, each of those journalism pieces or anything displayed on the suite of apps requires a membership to view.

Seems counter-intuitive. After all, isn’t news most valuable when it’s most timely?

Tasaka says that most news when first published can be found in lots of places. It would be hard to escape the news about the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin on the day it happened. Here in Columbia, I can find out what happened at a City Council meeting through multiple sources, including Facebook.

Where the real value lies, Tasaka says, is in the aggregate: When discrete events and nuggets of news create a more coherent story.

A 400-word article can’t possibly provide all the context and background to an issue. That’s why the Web is so great; I can check out past articles or other pieces of information to get a fuller picture.

There’s value — not for everyone, perhaps, but for many — in being able to access all the information. There’s value in unlimited access to the Missourian archives. There’s value in apps designed for tablets and smart phones.

We’ll soon see how much readers value becoming members of the Columbia Missourian.

Tom


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Comments

Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 9:31 a.m.

I expect this means if you want to read and comment (for free) on one of JKarl's articles, you've got 24 hours to do so.

After that, you won't find it.

That's one way to keep his articles out of the blue....simply reduce the number of posters by limiting the available time for posting. A real conversation stopper it is......

Oh well. Fortunately, there are other options.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 26, 2012 | 10:17 a.m.

Thanks. It only took 3 years of emails and complaining to ask the Missourian to catch up with tech and create a smart phone webpage.

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 26, 2012 | 10:20 a.m.

@Michael,

Commenting follows the same system as reading: free for 24 hours, then available only to members. I hope that the ability to comment on older stories will provide motivation for membership, though I understand that that won't always be the case. There is certainly no desire to limit comments, though — quite the opposite.

Joy Mayer
Director of community outreach
Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 11:51 a.m.

Joy,

Well, don't forget that the increased number of posts/posters that you saw in this place was a direct result of what the Tribune did. You may be right that having the ability to post on older columns may be an inducement for membership, but I'm skeptical that you are. Only time will tell.

Look, most of us "forum moochers" understand that we are indeed moochers; you've provided a free forum that allows others like me to take a verbal ball bat to your electronic and cellulosic baby. I've actually appreciated the opportunity and am surprised "free" went on as long as it did.

I won't be one of the new members, tho. I used to subscribe long ago (30 years?????), but quit and transferred to the other local newspaper when I tired of the constant leftward bent of the Missourian (mainly Kennedy). Ultimately, I quit the other newspaper...mainly because of the faux libertarianism of their publisher...and came back here, admittedly because you were free. I also liked the "only your real names" format. But, nothing has really changed in the interim; between Rosman, Kennedy, Nolen, Warhover, Robertson, and a host of young, bright-eyed, liberal, budding journalists and professional editors, it's a wonder that your SINGLE conservative commentator has survived!

If you want me to subscribe, you'll need more commentators that take a conservative/libertarian bent. You'll also need to quit selecting your stories so as to favor one political bent over another, much like the NYT internal editor recently admitted. And, you'll have to teach/edit your reporters how to submerge bias betrayed through their choice of words, grammar, and paragraph development.

Like any business, if you want my money you have to make sure I'm happy when I leave the store.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 26, 2012 | 2:01 p.m.

The Columbia Tribune's own Andrew W. Bear discusses the issue of paying for news online with a disgruntled reader:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erQgGi7gD...

Meanwhile, a Missourian editor might want to change the lede here to reflect the paywall announcement. It just kind of drops in on the story, which seems to be just about apps at first.

Finally, here's to finally paying all those unpaid columnists like J. Karl. Here here!

Not only is this basic fairness -- and good business -- but I think readers will find it more motivating to pay for Missourian content knowing their favorite writers will also be getting a piece of the action now. Michael Williams alludes to this important fact in his post.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 26, 2012 | 2:35 p.m.

So how long do we have before it is not worth logging on to this site anymore?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 3:29 p.m.

Corey: The story says this program, hidden well within the original titled story, starts tomorrow. For each story, you have 24 hours to say your piece. Any subscribers can then have the last word on whatever you wrote after you are shut out ;^)

Speaking of rain, that was a nice one Columbia just received. I was out in it and saw ALL that water cascading down the storm drains. Too bad we don't have a large lake; we would have captured almost all of it instead of filling the MO River. Gawd forbid we drown a stream.

PS: MikeM: I took a look at your uTube. It's a bit raw and hyperbolic in spots, but for the most part I think it's correct from both POVs. As stated in my original post, I'm surprised the Missourian held out as long as it did with the freebies, but I also know many of the reasons I quit subscribing long ago have not gone away.

I posted for two reasons: (a) It is good to see my words in print in a forum where others can comment. It allows me to see what others believe and think, so I can make an assessment of my own thoughts, and (2) habit. For the latter, it was fun. I've had many habits in my lifetime, and "changes" in circumstance have caused my habits to change. Life goes on. It's not a big deal. I'll prolly try the 24 hour deadline for a while to see if I'm ok with it. Or not. But, until paper changes are made, I'll not send $$$$ to an organization that far-too-often presents and supports philosophies anathema to me, especially in my own backyard. This is my only way to communicate that I'll not patronize the store.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 3:44 p.m.

Speaking of antibiotics, here's a rather important story NOT covered by the Missourian....in a health-oriented town:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/h...

Can I get a group "Rut row"?

PS: Pay particular attention to the paragraphs describing WHY pharma ISN'T developing new antibiotics.

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 26, 2012 | 5:23 p.m.

I was thinking. Maybe if the news papers stopped delivering those freebie papers 2 times a week even when you call them and tell them to stop they could save enough money to keep an open messages board. No paper to buy, no ink to us, No electricity to run the press, no paying a person to load it and no one to pay to deliver.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett August 26, 2012 | 5:59 p.m.

I am shocked at this. I was given the impression that we writers were appreciated and would be welcome to contribute our thoughts to the press in the manner of open discussion and opinion pieces - and we were not paid for our time or our talents in doing so. We did so, because we thought we were welcome to freely submit and engage in discussion here.

Online is free, but we pay for the online connection through our provider source, and that does not cost the Missourian a thing.

I will not be back.

I was contributing under the premise/deception given by the very people who were/are supposed to provide the source of exhange of ideas, once I have paid for my provider to do so.

As far as the other paper, I did pay and am sorry I did. I left because I was censored and told I was off-topic, when I had continually been insulted by someone who stayed off-topic in the process.

Not too long ago, I received a call from the other paper telling me I had a balance left due me on my paid subscription, and asked me to return the call, so they could send me the amount of the balance they owed me when I stopped them from my door, and when I had stopped online - and I have yet to return their call.

I am one of those people that I do not make a scene, nor do I get in a big debate - if you do not treat me as you said you would, then I will just not be back.

There are zillions of places to post on the internet and they are open to anyone who has paid the provider.

If you want readers and writers, then the good ones never have to pay to be published in the really good places.

Good-bye, Missourian.

Like I was with the other paper, I was one of your most faithful subscribers and writers.

Keep the ones that you have to prositution into it. I will never be one of them.

Your choice.

Bye-bye, to the open forum and free press. You are killing it off for a few bucks and a power kick you are on.

Gone here.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 26, 2012 | 6:18 p.m.

While I'm sympathetic to some of the gripes about the new paywall, I think the over-riding issue here is that the Missourian's columnists will finally start getting paid.

As a writer myself, I've been griping about this for quite some time, e.g.:

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

This is a huge inequity, and I'm pleased to hear the paywall will finally rectify it. Just think about where your subscription payments will actually be going -- to the people, like the Colonel, you love to read and comment about.

Seems fair enough to me.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 7:56 p.m.

MikeM: Where does the article say opinion columnists will be paid?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams August 26, 2012 | 8:18 p.m.

If any of y'all have manifesto chapters posted herein, or words you thought particularly witty or sage, better copy them now from your profile. They're about to disappear unless you subscribe.

I don't fall into any of the above categories, especially the witty or sage parts, so I'll just let them die.

(Report Comment)
Rich C. August 26, 2012 | 8:28 p.m.

Guess this means I'll just have to continue clearing my internet cookies out so I can browse Tribune. Doesn't look like the Missourian will be susceptible to the same hack

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 26, 2012 | 10:16 p.m.

"Where does the article say opinion columnists will be paid?"

I thought I read it more clearly earlier, but here certainly:

“The public has spoken, and public has said we will pay for news if there’s a high value to the content and presentation,” said Guy Tasaka....

"We will pay for news" must include (I would certainly think) the Missourian paying for columns from Rosman, Nolen, Miller, Robertson, Kennedy, etc.

If not, then why make readers pay to read them?

Plus, Warhover says the paywall is a "a new way of supporting the production of the news on all platforms."

Paying the columnists is a "new way of supporting the production of the news."

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks August 26, 2012 | 10:57 p.m.

Yes that definatly does not say a think about paying the writers anymore money. It says readers will pay more for news. To say they will pay Columnist more would be a reach. How would they fairly do that anyway? I would guess the COL would get paid a lot more then the rest as he brings in the most interaction. However with the pay wall that would mean less people posting soooooo.

(Report Comment)
Ida Fogle August 26, 2012 | 11:19 p.m.

The Missourian is instituting a paywall. There, now that will show up in the comments on the front page so more people will know, and fewer will be surprised tomorrow. I almost didn't read this article, as I thought "Yeah, I'll check into that later when I have time. I'm not downloading any apps today."

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir August 27, 2012 | 8:16 a.m.

Hi Michael Williams, regarding your comment:

"If any of y'all have manifesto chapters posted herein, or words you thought particularly witty or sage, better copy them now from your profile. They're about to disappear unless you subscribe."

That's actually not correct. Users will still be able to register to comment on stories and engage in discussion. However, after 24 hours, only site members will be able to view the content and, thus, continue the discussion.

We don't have any plans to get rid of user content, and in fact if current users choose to subscribe, we will do our best to link their subscription username to their existing profile and comments. That's a bit complicated technically due to the authentication system we're using, but we think we have figured out how to do it.

Rich Cookley: No, our system isn't cookie-based. It uses the same internal site logic that controls access to the site backend, where we manage site content.

All: Don't hesitate to contact me or the newsroom if you have any other questions.

Thanks, Rob
--
Rob Weir
Director of Digital Development
The Columbia Missourian
weirr@missouri.edu
573-882-5057
twitter: @robweir

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle August 27, 2012 | 8:50 a.m.

Missourian going paywall too, huh? The mechanism is interesting enough; it might stop another "Free Tibet Ride '08" comment fiasco, at least.

It will also probably keep me from being able to follow up on articles, like the several posts I've made over the summer about the recovering health of Flat Branch Creek, or any number of other articles / issues that evolve over time. This decision squelches the possibility of new information coming to light. That's just what a news organization is supposed to do, isn't it?

Missourian can't compete with Twitter/Reddit/anything else for *speed* of news, and now they are cutting themselves off from the long tail of discussion and analysis. Whatever value the Missourian staff sees in the area between those two, sorry, I don't.

No, I have no intention of paying to be able to contribute. I will still participate as I can within the new rules, but "24 hours or nothing" doesn't suit my style. Truth is, I've mostly lost interest in this comment forum already, and I expect the Missourian's decision will make what comments that will be left, to be even worse, even uglier, than it is now.

It was nice knowing you, free Missourian. Goodbye and best wishes!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 27, 2012 | 9:00 a.m.

First I've heard of this. I often don't check articles or comments for a day or more, so likely I'll be commenting even less than I do now (for better or for worse :-) ). I don't think I'll pay up either - haven't missed commenting at the Tribune (and by not accepting cookies, people can still read all the articles they want - which is why site traffic over there is still up, I suspect).

All things end, and this is no different. Hopefully I've contributed something of value here and there.

DK

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 27, 2012 | 10:09 a.m.

Odd how the price(s) and how to sign up seem to be missing from any discussion about this new feature...

(Report Comment)
Tom Warhover August 27, 2012 | 10:59 a.m.

John: I'm waiting for the green light from the tech people before giving the link to sign up. Apparently there was a last-minute glitch, but they expect to have it fixed today.

As to the price, here ya go:

$5.95/month for the digital-only membership, which includes up to five associate members (basically so a family doesn't have to pay more than once, unless it's a really large family).

$7.95/month for the digital plus the print version, which publishes Tuesday through Friday and Sunday.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 27, 2012 | 12:18 p.m.

This is sort of like paying admission to a coffee shop, another place where the freedom of speech and the sharing and arguing of ideas flow freely. It is only made worse as it is a publicly funded entity and a teaching one. Is the new idea of journalism; to be taught in business school? So now, like most else in our society, those who come to learn about journalism will only be exposed to a public willing to pay to present their thoughts. Funny that just as those who rarely comment on much were beginning to find a voice here, you drop this cluster bomb. Goodbye!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 27, 2012 | 1:54 p.m.

Question for Rob Weir: Are you going to start paying your columnists -- or not -- with the herald of this new paywall -- $72 a year to read the Missourian online.

If the columnists are not going to be paid, as Corey suggests, what will be their incentive to write if so many eyeballs flee? The "wow, look at all the exposure you're getting" chit won't be as valid anymore.

(Report Comment)
Rob Weir August 27, 2012 | 2:29 p.m.

Hi Mike,

Not to put it off, but that's probably a question for Tom — I just build the webs. Or, more specifically, oversee the guy who builds the webs.

thanks, Rob

(Report Comment)
Tom Warhover August 27, 2012 | 3:24 p.m.

Mike Martin: Our regular columnists will not be charged for memberships.
Gary Straub: I'm sorry to see you and others depart but certainly understand that it's your choice and there are other options.

I love coffee shops for the same reason, by the way. But I always buy a cup of joe while sharing ideas and information.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble August 27, 2012 | 4:29 p.m.

This makes me realize that I've thought of the archives of our city's two fine papers as something akin to the public library - a common resource, freely available, designed to optimize the sharing of information and history for the common good.

I've found the Missourian archives to be extremely useful and helpful on a number of occasions, but those occasions don't happen on a set schedule. They happen randomly, in connection with other random events, and don't sync up so well with a monthly fee schedule.

Charging for new-news access is intuitive in the sense that there's a regular need (or perception of need) for its consumption.

But archive access seems like a more sporadic type of need. And charging for it seems to be almost a punishment for patience - if you don't feel the need to habitually check the complete paper every single day, you're penalized. It will also impede sharing of stories in social media, as the links will essentially die after a day.

My family, including my wife and child, have been featured in the Missourian on a few different occasions this year. It feels strange to me that those contributions - photographs, quotes, story contributions - given freely, will now be locked away from the public view, including our own view, unless anyone who wants to see them pays a fee. It's not such a great feeling, to be honest.

(Report Comment)
Gary Straub August 27, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.

One last comment: Tom I also usually buy some coffee and often a newspaper - sometimes yours - when I go to a coffee shop, however I never pay an admittance fee.

(Report Comment)

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