The Boston Globe will soon begin charging for its Web site, publisher P. Steven Ainsley told the paper’s union bosses yesterday as the Globe’s parent New York Times [NYT] Co. confirmed in a regulatory filing that the money-losing Hub broadsheet is for sale.
These words, taken directly from the Boston Herald, finally offer insight into the Boston Globe’s plan to increase revenue. After a drawn-out cost-cutting process that reduced salaries and took away various benefits from Globe employees, this decision should provide some financial relief – if it is successful. While there is no information as to when this model will begin or how much a subscription will cost, it has already become a heavily discussed topic. In fact, this news has generated 70 comments (and counting) on one bog post by Mike Reiss, a New England Patriots reporter (the post was about the Pats’ acquisition of Derrick Burgess).
The Globe is entering some tricky territory here, as many current readers object to the idea of paying to read Boston.com. In a conversation with Xconomy’s Wade Roush back in April, he acknowledged that a fee-based model could result in some angry readers:
Charging people for content, even if you have a system where some content is free and some is behind a firewall, is a tricky and hazardous route to go. I think that has only really worked for publications like The Wall Street Journal, where the publication is indisputably the only place to get certain kinds of information and they have a captive audience in a particular industry.
While the Globe has valuable regional coverage, there have been other news sources (websites, blogs, etc) that have emerged in the Boston area and offer readers great information on vertical topics. So while Boston.com is a complete local/regional/national information hub, there are other places that don’t charge for readership where people can access the same information – a big advantage in today’s economy.
What do you think of the Globe’s decision to charge for access to Boston.com?