Chronicle Kills its Paywall -- After Only Four Months

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Flickr/Daniel Rubio
A shade over four months ago, Chronicle President Mark Adkins announced the installation of a long-planned paywall for the paper's online content.

Adkins has since been transferred to Beaumont, Texas -- and the paywall has been transferred to an even more backwater locale called "nonexistence."

Per newspaper staffers, employees were summoned to an afternoon meeting Monday at the paper's 901 Mission headquarters and told that the paywall segregating SFChronicle.com and SFgate.com will be leveled.

Subscribers, however, can still have the option of paying for a subscription to SFChronicle.com, even though all of its content will, once again, be available at SFGate.

See Also: The Chron Finally Launches its (Leaky) Paywall


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If the Chron can induce large numbers of subscribers to shell out legal tender for content readily available for free, then it will have solved the media conundrum of our age.

That's not likely. But this will allow readers who want only Chronicle content and don't want to wade through the dreck on SFGate to pay for that privilege.

The move was described to SF Weekly as being the brainchild of newly installed publisher and president Jeffrey Johnson and Joanne Bradford (the latter of which is a former Yahoo! exec). The two have, per sources, been busy revamping advertising and sales procedures. Now they have apparently seen little reason to stick with an unpopular paywall installed by a departed regime and acknowledged internally as "not a big success."

Calls to Johnson, Bradford, and editor-in-chief Ward Bushee have not yet been returned. Messages for managing editor Audrey Cooper were shunted to marketing director Michael Keith, who stated "I can't comment on anything."

But, when he does, it'll be online for free.


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7 comments
AsokAsus
AsokAsus

Paywall up, paywall down. Paywall up, paywall down. These are just more convulsions of the dying newspaper industry.

The Internet comet crashed to earth in 1998 and killed the newspaper dinosaurs, who existed solely because they could create monopoly conditions for local advertising. The newspapers were killed by the digital revolution with the formation of craigslist, ebay, google, and amazon all around 1998, thus destroying the local advertising monopolies, but their deaths have taken over a decade to register with their pea-sized brains as their mammoth bodies thrashed about.

Going digital ten years too late means that newspapers have merely become little more than a few additional websites competing with a billion existing web sites for limited advertising dollars. And even worse for the dying papers, ad pages no long bring in thousands of dollars per page, but instead bring in thousandths of a cent per page, so there's no chance whatsoever of digital ad revenues ever equaling newspaper publishing ad revenues.

Digital subscriptions, also known as paywalls, never had a chance of working either. Most of what's behind a paywall is freely available elsewhere, and paywalls render any ads behind the paywalls valueless, meaning no one in their right mind is going to pay for an ad behind a paywall.

It is true that the loss of news gathering by newspapers is collateral damage from the digital revolution. However, news was never anything more than the hook to get consumers to buy and read the newspaper ads, and for the most part had been turned into little more than leftest propaganda anyway, so the value of the "loss" is highly debatable.

At any rate, it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch, since most U.S. newspapers have been promoting the overthrow of all that is good and unique about the U.S. for at least 70 years. At least buggy whip makers never tried to destroy the U.S.

metaskeptik
metaskeptik

Pay for the Chonicle?  Perfect example of San Francisco vanity. LOL.

pablo
pablo

SF Gate dreck includes the insipid columns by Willie Brown, Chip Johnson and Matier and Ross as well as puff pieces about bikini bods and Justin Bieber's auto-tuned riots.

SF Weakly has its own share of dreckful dreck, from ads for "massage parlors" and testosterone boosters to awesome coverage of the faces and fashions of whatever concert happens to be running the biggest ads at the moment.

Meanwhile, real news about real issues is still behind the firewall of editorial ignorance.

Jan Blum
Jan Blum

When this becomes a newspaper again in some distant future I will re subscribe. Meantime it is not worth paying for.

Paul Varga
Paul Varga

And, gee, I wonder who got the bulk of it.

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