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Poll: Will You Subscribe If stltoday.com (Post-Dispatch) Puts Up A Pay Wall?

August 5, 2012 Featured, Media, Sunday Poll 9 Comments

Last month our daily paper laid off another round of journalists, editors, photographers and others:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch laid off nearly two dozen employees, 14 of them from the paper’s newsroom, NewsChannel 5 Sharon Stevens has learned.

Speaking to Post-Dispatch employees Friday afternoon, Stevens learned the newsroom employee layoffs included: 3 reporters, 1 photographer, 1 cartoonist, 2 copy editors, 4 photo editors, 1 deputy managing editor, 1 news editor and 1 food editor. The remaining cuts were made in other departments. (KSDK)

This is really a shame too, especially for my friends who’ve lost jobs.

ABOVE: Entrance to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at 900 N. Tucker

Some might say it’s just the changing media environment while other blame the debt carried by parent Lee Enterprises:

DAVENPORT, Iowa (July 17, 2012) — Lee Enterprises, Incorporated (NYSE: LEE) reported today for its third fiscal quarter ended June 24, 2012, a loss of 3 cents per diluted common share, compared with a loss of $3.46 a year ago. Excluding reorganization costs in 2012, non-cash impairment charges and a non-cash curtailment gain in 2011, and debt financing costs and other unusual matters in both years, adjusted earnings per diluted common share(1) totaled 2 cents, compared with 21 cents a year ago. The majority of the decline is attributable to higher interest cost in 2012. (Reuters)

Lee Enterprises purchased the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2005:

Lee Enterprises is currently the fourth largest newspaper group in the United States of America. The company acquired Howard Publications (16 daily newspapers) for $694 million in 2002 and Pulitzer, Inc. (14 daily, over 100 non-daily), for $1.5 billion in 2005. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. It emerged from bankruptcy less than two months later. (Wikipedia)

CEO Mary Junck was rewarded handsomely so far this year:

Lee Enterprises disclosed yesterday [July 25, 2012] that CEO Mary Junck acquired 500,000 shares of company stock. That stock was worth $1.31 per share at the close of business on the date the paperwork was filed, but Junck paid nothing for it.

Junck received the stock as a “Grant by the Issuer’s independent Executive Compensation Committee (ECC) of non-incentive restricted shares of common stock pursuant to Issuer’s 1990 Long Term Incentive Plan,” according to the footnote on the company’s paperwork.

This marks the second time this year that Junck has received a bonus from the company. She was gifted $500,000 in March for leading the company into and out of bankruptcy. Yesterday’s bonus totals out to a cash value of $655,000, which is a pretty good take for a Wednesday. (Riverfront Times)

Currently the only way to subscribe to the Post-Dispatch is by receiving a delivered paper, but that may change:

We introduced digital subscriptions in 11 more markets during the quarter, for a total of 17 so far, and expect nearly all of Lee’s 52 markets to follow by the end of the calendar year. (Lee Enterprises)

It’s still unknown if some form of a digital subscription will be added to the Post-Dispatch website, stltoday.com. The poll question this week asks you to assume the Post-Dispatch puts up a pay wall, will you subscribe? If yes, how much are you willing to pay? The poll is in the right sidebar.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Kansas City Star has an excellent ap for IPOD, it is a reproduction of the printed edition; tap on an article and it enlarges. Very well done.

    • robelroy says:

      They aint advertised it yet but the PD has the same thing in the app store. It is AMAZING.

  2. Andy Hough says:

    I didn’t quit subscribing to the Post because of cost or because I’m on-line all the time.  I quit because I got tired of funding liberal propaganda.  I never could understand a business plan that involved  pissing off about half of your readership on a routine basis.  I would not be interested in funding this in a digital format either.  I do however, try to find out what’s going on in the world.  Too bad you can’t do that without the agenda. 

    • Eric says:

      It’s been so long since I read a physical copy of the SLPD that I wouldn’t know if there is a liberal or conservative bias. My vague recollection from the pre-internet days is that the paper prints a mixture of liberal and conservative columnists. But why would I go to the SLPD for my national and international news? There are so many other sources that are dedicated to those topics, and have more in depth and frankly better coverage. I still read the SLPD online for sports and local news, but there is much less politics in those subjects. And really, why should the SLPD waste resources duplicating the coverage which already exists for other subjects?

      I don’t currently subscribe to any newspaper online. I stopped reading the NY Times regularly when it put up a paywall. I’m not opposed to this in theory, but so far my annoyance at being locked out of articles has not overcome my hesitation to pull out the credit card. This could change in the future, and the SLPD or some other paper might end up making money off me. 99% of newspaper web site readers are not willing to pay, but a paying reader probably makes the newspaper 99 times as much profit as a non-payer.

      I do think though that if a newspaper wants to have exposure and influence in the community, it would have to be incredibly stupid to lock out most of its audience with a paywall.

  3. robelroy says:

    I have already bought a few articles on their ereader. It is pretty cheap and I really dont care. The Beacon and the Riverfront Times are good but nowhere near the level of depth. Same for the television websites which must have about a five person newsroom.
    By the way they WILL be putting up a paywall and it will be sooner than you think. I follow some other papers put out by Lee Enterprises. They do a website change and then put up a paywall about a month later. I would say it will go up in the next two weeks to month. I know this company better than most….
    It is no one’s fault, but online advertising has been an epic dissapointment for newspapers. Ten years ago, we thought we could get one or two hundred bucks per year for each online viewer eventually. The Guardian in the UK just released their numbers, and they get about 35 cents per online viewer

  4. robelroy says:

    I would say the PD probably gets about 20 cents per online viewer per year. They are basically sick of having large audiences that drive no revenue. This will take years to clear up. Understand that newspapers collectively own the Associated Press, which provides about 90% of the national news. At some point the AP is going to start cutting off its subscriptions to Google and Yahoo news and force people to go back to their local provider. The newspapers that own the AP and provide all of its raw content are sick of getting killed by their own creation

  5. robelroy says:

    Oh, and BTW, i was just looking at the poll results. Sorry folks, it is gonna be probably about 80 – 120 bucks per year for the paywall.

  6. With the last website revision,  a lot of the news I used to read on the site is now gone. I am talking about the science news link they used to have.  Quite a long time, there was an explicit science news link. Then it was removed and up until the last revision, the link was gone – or at least I could not find it – but you could still go to that link and get science stories from the AP and some local stories. There were subheading of environmental news, tech news, and a couple of others. 

    Since the science news stories are gone, I read a lot fewer stories from the online P-D now.

    • Just want to add that I think there is a lot of good local reporting in the P-D.  I still read a lot of these stories, but I used to like to see all the associated press science stories too, and most of them are now gone.  If the science stories were removed for lack of interest, I’m sorry to think people are not interested in reading about science.  


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