NewsOK (The Daily Oklahoman) is the largest newspaper in Oklahoma City, and I suspect the largest mainstream media conglomerate in our state. I love to read their news feeds in my RSS aggregator, but their policy of forcing the public to PAY to access news articles over 60 days old is flawed and should change.

NewsOK: Please change your article access policy!

As a voting public, free and open access to information is a cornerstone of our democracy. While I certainly respect intellectual property rights and am not saying mainstream media outlets shouldn’t make money on their content, I personally find this policy by NewsOK frustrating, ridiculous, and counter-productive to the ideal of promoting an informed and educated electorate for our state.

Please NewsOK, change this policy and open up your archives for FREE public access. Monetize your archived content in other ways, with embedded ads in your RSS feeds and on your article pages. I know schools can get free access, but that is not good enough. As Oklahomans, we deserve more from the fourth estate. Locking up your content in this way risks digital irrelevancy for so much of the wonderful content you have residing on your servers.

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On this day..

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  • http://www.techsavvyteacher.com/blog Jason

    Wes… It is an important discussion you bring up here, but, to play devil’s advocate for a moment… do you really think the ad revenue is enough? It seems like newspapers made a grand mistake by focus on free content first were worried about the financial model later… sure, information wants to be free but well-research and multiple-view journalism costs cash money…

  • Paul Fisher

    This is a classic example of the way technology has forever changed the traditional “publishing” business model – and the expectations of the public at the same time. What newspapers really provide is content…and access to information. NewsOK, along with almost every other newspaper, has learned that you can’t afford to stay in business and give away your main product for free on the internet.

    Wes, I certainly can understand your wish – and agree the world would be a better place if more things were “open-source”. Although this is still one area of technology and information service that I’m willing to support financially as a consumer.

  • http://noeltigers.com wmchamberlain

    I am torn on this because gathering, sifting, editing and publishing information is a valuable service. I suspect it isn’t the information that is expensive, it is what they to with it to make it accessible and usable by us. Obviously we are witnessing a fundamental shift in how information is disseminated and none of us are sure how newspapers will (or can) survive.

    I suspect that there are other ways you can gather much of the information you are searching for. As a business model, I am not sure that embedded ads would generate enough revenue to continue the services they provide now.

  • Adri

    All public schools in Oklahoma have access provided by Devon — and several libraries subscribe to it – so you can use your library card (and your IE browser) to access it for free.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    @Adir: I knew schools have access but didn’t know some libraries do.

    Perhaps I should have shared this post with less frustration and more as a statement of fact: I’m sure I’m not alone in gravitating to online media sources which permit open access, rather than those which lock up their content and charge for it. I can and do read articles from the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, CNN, etc, and none of them have a policy similar to that of NewsOK. (Please correct me if I’m wrong on this.)

    As I mentioned in the post, NewsOK “risks digital irrelevancy” with this policy for the majority of Internet users. I’m sure they’d love millions of people outside Oklahoma to pay to access their content that’s over two months old, but the reality is that most people won’t do this. For those who won’t pay, don’t have the access you mentioned or don’t want to go through the hoops of using the userid/password or other authentication scheme to login to the site, the content there becomes inaccessible and therefore digitally irrelevant.

    If NewOK was following a fantastic policy here, why don’t we see more top level news organizations in the world following it? We don’t because the policy is flawed and should change.

  • Andy

    Wes, you may not have been to the Washington Post site recently. Not only does the WP charge for archive access (anything older than 60 days), they also require a user to register and login to access any content on the site.

    From a news perspective, the value proposition for content changes rapidly once the content has gotten past the initial discovery or “freshness” period. The initial value proposition is to inform a large audience. After that, the proposition changes from informing the public to serving as a referral/reinforcing service for a select few with a stronger interest in the specific information.

    As mentioned by @Adri, The Oklahoman makes it’s content available electronically through a variety of sources like public schools through partnership with Devon Energy and various libraries and universities that have chosen to pay for access for their patrons.

    And, where content as “information” retains a longer freshness period (as with the Weleetka murders coverage), NewsOK allows users to freely access this content.

  • Jay

    The New York Times announced plans today to move to a paid content model. They will take the rest of the year to figure it out. January 2011 is their start date. I imagine most publishers will consider this their starting pistol.

    So now what? Wes, I am interested in how you think the community might support a community service product like newsok. The city / state needs a public record. We all agree on that. It has to be in business to exist.

    At what cost will people “pay a tip” to newsok so they can continue forward.

    You are a thought leader. If newsok’s current efforts at growth and sustainability won’t work for the community what do you think they should they do instead? Is there a right price in your mind? Is there enough value?

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