NPR has canceled its newspaper subscriptions, saving itself $100,000 and choosing to get the news from the online sites of the papers.
Okay, yes, this move sucks for print newspapers. But hello, why should NPR pay for getting the print products if it can get the same information online, for free? NPR is radio, it doesn’t matter if it gets the news from a print product or not.
Some are saying this is a good example of why newspapers should make readers pay for the online content. Ryan Chittum on Columbia Journalism Review expresses it well:
Newspapers make fools of all their paying subscribers by giving their product away free on the Web. Why pay $400 a year for The New York Times when the same thing is free online? I sure could use that extra $35 a month, and it’s mighty tempting to kill my subscription—I don’t like the actual print product that much.
Newspapers really have to start doing something, anything, to help themselves. Either deciding to go to an all-online format or starting to charge for content must be decisions newsrooms start making. I know that the problem with an only online pub is that people still haven’t figured out how to get money from online. But what is the alternative?
I truly believe something has to be done soon because newspapers are simply thinning out more and more. Eventually, it will be too late to save them.
That’s why papers have to act now. At my company, we have started charging for obits. I’m not exactly sure if that’s a great idea, but at least it’s an idea. Other papers are probably doing similar things. Why not try doing that with a specific section of the Web site? Okay, you want movie reviews, pay 25 cents for one. We pay 99 cents for iTunes. Why not 25 cents for a story?