DEAR READER: Some things in life, and on the Missourian website, are still free

Friday, September 14, 2012 | 5:38 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 a.m. CDT, Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dear Reader, You may have missed the small print in Friday’s print edition. It marked the birthday of the Columbia Missourian.

Look in the box by the bar code at the bottom of the Front Page. On Friday, it read: “Our 105th year/#1.”


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That’s right. Your newspaper turned a year older on Friday. Your newspaper is still going strong 104 years after it began on Sept. 14, 1908. There was even a cake and a hearty round of “Happy Birthday,” sung mostly in tune, on Friday in the newsroom. A reader who strolled in just before the event proclaimed that the event was all to honor his entrance, and, in a way, it certainly was.

On to more current items …

After several technical problems that delayed the launch, the new digital suite of apps and paid-content system has been up in earnest for a few days now. Eradicating minor bugs continues, and tweaks are being made to make the sign-up process simpler.

For those who don’t read every word of every letter I write you – a shocking thought, I know – the new system allows you to read every article, graphic, video or photo for free for the first 24 hours of publication. After that, you must become a member.

There are, however, some “forever free” categories.

  • From Readers submissions. Think of it as a thank you for taking the time and effort to share your news with the rest of us. (Here's a previous column about the value your stories bring to the Missourian.)
  • Obituaries. There are three types of obits. A family obituary is like any other From Readers item, except that it's submitted through a funeral home. Similarly, a Missourian obituary is one that has been edited more to conform to newspaper style. A “Missourian life story” is one in which a reporter has done extra interviews and written a feature about the person. All three are free. (The three types are described in more detail in this earlier column.)
  • Classified advertising. The obvious reason applies here: Get more eyes on your ad.

You also can comment for free. Same rules as in the past: You must be registered, and you must use your real name. You can register without a membership, although you'll only be able to see and comment on new articles.

Evolving is what I might call “occasionally free.” These are the stories and photos that, because of their timeliness or general service, are worth reprising from time to time.

“How to talk to your children about 9/11” ran in advance of the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The advice first published a year ago was just as useful this week as it was then. When the subject came up at a news meeting on Tuesday, I OK’d it to be included in a free section for the day.

It would have been silly to do the same article with the same information a year later. Republishing it was the better option.

You’ll also be able to take a stroll along the streets of Columbia, S.C., with reporter Harry Plumer before the Tigers play the Gamecocks on Sept. 22. It’s a wonderful story that first ran on Aug. 16. If you haven’t read it yet, and haven’t become a member yet, I hope it will serve as an incentive to join so you can read the rest of “SEC Road Trip.” The special section is filled with great stories from every SEC town.

Is it a marketing pitch? You bet.

I’m happy to proclaim that the Missourian is filled with great content. I won’t apologize for trying to draw your attention to it.


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