Here in the patch, it took us all of two seconds to decode today's story, "HeraldStandard.com begins metered paywall system."
We wondered what was up a while back when the newspaper made a big announcement that is was changing its official name to "HeraldStandard.com." Now we have the answer: it is moving toward charging for its previously free online content.
What's disengenuous, though, is how the paper tap-dances around the most important fact concerning this change.
If written in the inverted pyramid style that is the building block of good news writing, here's a typical take on how today's story would have begun:
Starting today, HeraldStandard.com will begin limiting online readers to five free stories a month, after which they will be required to register with a name and email address to view another five free stories, after which they will have to purchase a subscription to view more stories.
A 2-day subscription will cost $2.99, a one-month subscription will be $5.99, and a one-year subscription will be $59.99, with two free months included in that price.If you subscribe to the print edition, you can get a discount.
To get to this understanding, we had to put on our fishing boots and slosh through a river of pablum from publisher Val Laub, who tried to make it sound like the newspaper is only trying to strengthen its bond with readers by making them pay.
Judge for yourself:
“Our goal will be to continue to provide our readers with news and information as it happens within our communities. We are asking our readers to join us as we value the opportunity to provide news to our general public 24/7," added Laub.
"Registering will allow us to have a direct relationship with our readers," said Laub. “Not only will they be able to comment on stories, submit items of interest and create a dashboard based on their preferences, it will allow us to identify content of interest."
“Having feedback from our viewers and reviews from our online audience will allow us to grow well into the future. How we relay our news to our general public is about to get a lot more interactive," added Laub.
It remains to be seen whether this latest initiative will pan out, especially when there are days when this paper-thin newspaper paper has only five or six bylined stories to offer as content.
Given that the primary competition, in the form of the Tribune-Review and Connellsville Daily Courier, is generally providing better written stories and is not yet charging for online content, this move carries some risk.
But we believe one thing is absolutely certain: HeraldStandard.com is way more interested in getting your money than your feedback. The way today's story is structured should prove that point.