Monday, August 3, 2009

On-line newspapers

I wrote about reading on-line newspapers, mostly rants or vents about their Websites, and mostly how clunkly they are to use. Well, I forgot another idea which I find on some but not on others and another idea which is here and likely will be more so as the newspapers and technology evolve. And these are?

First, the presence or lack of a daily version, the "Today's paper" version in an on-line form. As we know news is always on-going, and the television news Websites are always presenting new stories and articles. You have to keep going back to see what's new and news now. The daily papers have taken two different routes.

The almost all established city daily papers present the on-line version of today's print edition where everything is there in an on-line form. This is cool for those of us who read the dailies and like to see what's new from the previous day. Kinda' playing mental catch-up with the world. It separates the day fron the on-going.

But some, like the Christian Science Monitor and USA Today, don't have an on-line daily edition. They simply don't provide one, so you have to wander around and remember what you've read and what you think is new news. While it makes information management and presentation easier, not separating a daily version, it's frustrates readers like me, when you have to keep looking for a date, if there is one, when the article was posted.

And yes, it's frustrating and irritating. I like daily newspapers, whether print or on-line. It makes reading easier to decipher what's overnight and what's really news. This is because many of the news Website mix the stories so you can't tell which is current, which is recent and which is simply keeping around because it fills space or has lingering value in their minds.

And sometimes that's what they want. The longer you linger and wander the Website and pages the more they present ads and other stuff to entice you to help them generate revenue. Like I will. Sorry, I'll scan it for articles I don't find elsewhere or you're better at the others at investigating and reporting. It's why I like the USA Today and CS Monitor, different perspectives and presentations.

But it also leads to the second idea that's the future of the news Websites, subsriptions. The first to do this was the Wall Street Journal when they decided revenue was the way to go through the on-line version, which the offer as:

"Subscribers to get access to articles from daily editions of The Wall Street Journal for the past 90 days, organized by section and page, and may also view images of each section's front page. It's a quick way to find a specific story from the paper, or to scan page by page to make sure you haven't missed anything.
Subscribers may also browse section front pages of The Wall Street Journal Europe and The Wall Street Journal Asia, with complete access to stories from those papers.

Nonsubscribers may view headlines from today's section fronts. Subscribe now to get full access to the full list of headlines and the articles."

The CS Monitor offers changed to a non-print daily last March (announced fall 2008) and now offers this.

Subscribe to the weekly edition of The Christian Science Monitor, the news weekly that confidently confronts today's complex and changing world. Each issue will bring you a major in-depth cover story on pivotal global events or emerging trends … on-the-ground dispatches from Monitor correspondents around the world … and "Why It Matters" briefings that give perspective to today's news and assess the impact for tomorrow. Plus the Monitor will give you great ideas to enrich and enliven your life with regular features including Money, Culture, and more.

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If you have questions about an existing subscription, or would like information on education rates, please email us at or call 1-800-456-2220.

Daily News Briefing provides a selection of the most important stories of the day and a special column with our Editors' perspectives on these important events. With leading news articles and a News-in-Brief column, The Christian Science Monitor Daily News Briefing will provide abridged Monitor news electronically five days a week by 5:00 a.m. EST each morning. Its short format is easy to read and print out, and is available for only $5.75 each month."

All the major city dailies now offer a host of free services to reader, from RSS to Facebook and other Websites to get or comment on the news. They want your patronage and loyality, and eventually they'll want your money to pay for it. The money from ads doesn't even pay the rent, let alone the salaries, so they have to invent new presentations to attract you.

That's because with few exceptions, most of the news they present is from other sources, some they pay the source and some they simply glean and reproduce. The free service will eventually go away as the news sources begin to charge readers to read and other news sources to reproduce.

It's the flexibility in the copyright law which allows fair and free use for non-commecial purposes which has covered news and newspapers. But that has and will continue to change as the sources need income to pay for the work, therefore becoming the commercial use of news. This means those simply presenting the news stories will also have to find ways to generate income to pay the sources for the stories.

So what do I see down the road for on-line news Websites? Simple, just like print editions, if you want the news, get out your checkbook, or rather the credit card they can automatically deduct the cost of either a subscription or a per item, time or use fee. It will be part of the cost of living and keeping current. Or you can simply skip it all and be clueless on the news.