Thursday, October 14, 2010

Qs: $75/Year for The Signal online? 30,000 readers every day?

I realize this is "old news", but it's old news I haven't seen discussed anywhere, so forgive me if you have.

The Signal will soon be replacing its online free edition with an online not-free edition. At least that was the plan on September 21st, the date publisher Ian Lamont spoke at the Valley Industrial Association's monthly luncheon. He was introducing The Signal's editorial board and addressed the matter of paying to read the paper online[1].

It began with a question from Andy Pattantyus: "In the last two or three years, uh, The Signal has moved aggressively into the electronic world. Uh, how has that changed the nature and complexion of the editorial, um, reporting and opinion page?”

Ian Lamont replied:

Um, hopefully i-it it here’s the, here’s the deal. We have 30,000 readers of the printed Signal every day. Um, We have, um, thousands more of the e-Edition, we have a digital edition of The Signal that is exactly like The Signal that on the computer you can read flipping pages just like you had the printed version. We get about three-quarters of a million doll-uh-page views, a month, on the uh, website,about 125,000 uniques. So The Signal’s audience has never been bigger. Um, and one of the things and I uh I happen to be talkin’ with somebody, The Signal very soon—right now, you pay to subscribe to the print and to the e-Edition; you don’t pay to subscribe to the website. So you get virtually most of our news content for free. That’s gotta change. We can’t have half of our audience paying for a hundred percent of our audience. So pretty soon that website’s gonna go behind a pay wall. It’ll still only be about 20 cents a day, it’s not gonna break anybody’s wallet, but I’m sure we’re gonna have people screeeam-ing about the fact you’re taking away my free content. Well, that’s what’s coming.

So, um, uh, that’s one change and in terms of changing our opinion, hopefully whether we have an audience of 10 or an audience of 10,000, it doesn’t change how we go about doing our business.”

Eloquence, thy voice is Lamont's.

I won't get into the publisher's questionable numbers (but for one example, Verified Audit Circulation shows about 11,000 readers on a given weekday--more on weekends--while Lamont claims to have "30,000 readers of the printed Signal every day."[3]) The real issue is the "pay wall." Lamont addressed the subject all but unprompted, which suggests it's at the forefront of his mind. It will be the same price as the current e-Edition, that nicer-looking, more complete way to read TMS online.

There's no question that the local news junkies will pay to read the paper online. But what about the rest of Clarita, the residents who only care about a few issues or whose interests in Claritan politics are desultory? When these Claritans have to weigh whether to pay six bucks a month and whether to go through the hassle of signing-up and logging-in, will they decide that The Signal, that bastion of mediocrity, is worth it?

[1] Here's that board.
[2] You can watch the clip by clicking on the screen-capture below, which will take you to the SCVTV website. Start watching at the half-hour mark (30 minutes, 18 seconds, to be precise).


[3]Verified Audit Circulation numbers

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The Signal, that bastion of mediocrity."

How generous you're being.