DEAR READER: Why membership makes a difference

Monday, August 27, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dear Reader,

Look at the Missourian’s marketing for the new digital suite and you’ll see a call to join. To become a member. To buy a membership. None of the ads ask you to subscribe.


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What’s in a word? The differences may be subtle. To me, they are meaningful.

A subscription implies a continuing exchange of goods, in this case the Columbia Missourian you’ve always received: your morning newspaper, regardless of whether it’s on newsprint or on your computer.

A membership suggests you have a stake in the success of the organization.

Every advertiser or anyone who has ever renewed a yearly subscription has given back to this not-for-profit publication.

Many readers of the Columbia Missourian have given of their time, expertise and experience. The Readers Board is a fine example: Each month, board members gather to give the staff feedback on the work that’s done. They get some nice snacks; they give so much more.

Other readers, many of them with official titles, give just a little more time and patience as they are interviewed or photographed by extremely smart but inexperienced student-journalists. Some readers give by pointing out mistakes through Show Me the Errors or by making submissions to our From Readers section.

They have helped make the Columbia Missourian what it is: an award-winning publication that also trains the next generation of journalists across the world.

Paid membership helps the Missourian move into the next iterations of journalism.

Membership should also give you more access.

So members receive access to the Missourian’s archives. They receive continuous access to special sections and e-books such as “Road Trip SEC,” a massive project that was more than four months in the making. They will receive technical updates for the phones or tablets they use. They’ll receive new features as they are rolled out.

There’s no single solution to the disassembling of a centuries-old model of advertising carrying a disproportionate load of the cost to gather and distribute information. Neither subscriptions nor memberships will pay all the bills for a newspaper. But your membership is an increasingly crucial component.


P.S. To register as a member, click here.

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Nathan Whitaker August 27, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.

Interesting. Will this be as trivial to bypass as the Tribune's "pay" model?
(delete your cookies?)

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 27, 2012 | 3:04 p.m.

Sorry Rob: Can't read your response to whether or not the Missourian will now be paying its columnists in light of the new paywall because the paywall just locked down that story.

It also locked down all comments on stories past, so I can't look there either (seems like taking an awful lot of undeserved IP ownership).

When the Missourian pays its regular, non-student columnists (Rosman, Nolen, Kennedy, Miller, Robertson, etc.) -- real dollars, not some phony-baloney trade stuff or something they can't actually cash -- I will buy a full one-year subscription.

Even if it's just a penny a word (which would be ridiculously low, but at least something).

Otherwise, no subscription from this reader, either.

(Report Comment)
Rich C. August 27, 2012 | 9:23 p.m.

@ Nathan

I asked the same thing in the article yesterday introducing the change. It has since been censored so only "members" can view it.

Answer I was given is no, you cannot just delete the cookies. It seems as if there is a check against their server for the time and if it exceeds 24 hours past the article posting time, you are locked out.

I even tried changing the system/date time on my machine to no avail.

So, good job Missourian IT guys.

(Report Comment)
Richard Saunders August 28, 2012 | 12:41 p.m.

Something tells me that the people running the Missourian do not understand that an "exchange of goods" requires that THEY offer value that we desire enough to exchange our wealth to obtain.

Last one out, please turn off the lights.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor August 28, 2012 | 1:44 p.m.

If I have to pay, I want a product that serves me. Right now, this product is designed and packaged to be appealing to liberals. I am not a liberal. Give me fair and responsible journalism and I will pay for it. Give me the typical lamestream media with a clear bias and I will let your advertisers pay for it. Lock me out and they will pay less...

(Report Comment)
TR Robertson August 28, 2012 | 2:12 p.m.

Your editorial/defense seems to make the point that paying a membership fee is no different than contributing to the Missourian by taking out an ad or being interviewed for an article. I'm guessing this means either:
1) If I buy a want ad or if one of your reporters interviews me, that would satisfy the requirements for making a contribution and my "membership" would now be free.
2) In order to buy and ad or be interviewed for an article, I first will have to pay for a membership. Kind of like purchasing a seating license before being allowed to buy a ticket. Will your student reporters carry a credit card app so they can collect the $5.95 before they interview people?
Or I suppose it could be true that this is just a paywall, like the Trib's (only apparently more airtight), but you would rather insult our intelligence by calling it a "membership" rather than being honest and calling it a "subscription".

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle August 28, 2012 | 8:30 p.m.

Considering I'm only $1/month away from a full/"premium" digital subscription/membership/supporter/whatever account at the other local rag right now...

But, regardless of anything else, I really would like a way to access my own (just my own) comments here, independent of the articles they were posted to, after the 24 hrs. I don't think click-to reveal that post, or a big scrollable list of posts, should be that improbable a task, considering what you've just accomplished with the paywall.

Thanks for considering.

(Report Comment)
Erin K. O'Neill September 11, 2012 | 2:12 p.m.

I really believe in paying for content, and I am to a certain extent very pleased to see the Missourian experiment with the pay wall model. However, the Missourian is a teaching paper and most of its staff are students who are hoping to use their clips from the Missourian to obtain real, paying jobs. Most portfolios are digital these days; so, how do you expect the students you are training as journalists to share their work with potential employers?

I wrote a column for the Missourian for over a year and a half, and now I have to pay to access my own work. I paid the University of Missouri a lot of money in tuition for the privilege to be on staff at the Missourian. What, exactly, is your solution?

Erin K. O'Neill
Former Missourian Opinion Columnist

(Report Comment)
Elizabeth Conner Stephens September 11, 2012 | 3:32 p.m.


We are getting a lot of questions from former students. The best option is to subscribe for a month and download the articles you want for your portfolio as a pdf. You can also contact our circulation department to get a reprint of your work.

Let me know if you have further questions.

Elizabeth Conner
News editor

(Report Comment)

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