Jim

Bluffton Today’s gonna make you pay

In The news biz, Unfettered stupidity on November 7, 2008 at 6:56 pm

I’m very sorry to see my previous employer, Bluffton Today, will soon go from a freebie to a paid-subscription model. Many’s the time we told readers — looked ’em in the eye — that we had no plans to charge them for the paper. We meant it, and the owners, Morris Communications backed us up. 

No longer. 

Coverage on freedailies.com here

Read some of the local reaction here

BT was a helluvan experiment — an all-local daily paper delivered to every home and business in town for free. A “total market coverage product” with actual news. People loved it; they still do. I loved working there. Usually, when you work at a newspaper, you are loath to tell people what you do for a living; so many folks are happy to tell you how much you and your paper suck, right to your face. It gets old fast. In Bluffton, people would tell me instead how much they loved my paper and what a great job we were doing. That never gets old. 

The Web site was (and is) remarkable, too — a free-for-all public forum, basically, with a virtual version of the newspaper tacked on. Early on, we started printing some of the commentary; between that and the “Vox” phone commentary, BT really features a LOT of local (albeit anonymous) voices in the paper. It’s a democratizing influence a lot of newspapers could benefit from. The virtual edition of BT will go behind the subscription wall. 

But the advertising never really caught up with the cost of putting it out, I guess, even with a fair amount of bootstrapping (read: layoffs) over the past year or so. (The tanking economy can’t help. Thanks, Wall Street and White House!)

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