Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On Newspapers & Paywalls

There are some basic requirements that must be met before I'll consider paying for online news. In my case it's [specifically] the Concord Monitor.

First let me preface this by explaining that I survive solely on my disability check from Social Security each month (which hasn't increased for a year or two, and isn't likely to next year either). So every expense I incur comes out of a fixed amount. I have to consider the value of every cent spent and also weigh it against every other expenditure. And despite what the CPI* indicates, the cost of many of these are going up.

So for me to take a portion of this [shrinking] pie and spend it on the local newspaper there has to be:

1. Exclusive content that I value and is well written, informative, complete & accurate.
2. A well laid out & easy to navigate website.
3. A website that is secure and well maintained (best security practices incl. 3rd-party audits/pen testing).
4. Also a secure payment system utilizing the best security available to protect customers including full encryption of transactions and storage of customer data. Also requiring the same of 3rd-party payment processors (or *other*) are used.
5. Plenty of local content.
6. Lots of compelling photography.
7. Blogs (but EXCLUDING political** blogs!)

I'd also like to see a local 'Technology' section, possibly getting local experts to contribute regularly with advice & tips (that could even be done/sold? [tastefully] as 'Adver-Tips') and regular 'cybersecurity' information (similar to my [former] BlogsNH blog*** "TechAlert"), because caring about computer & Internet safety needs to be force-fed (subtly) to the public at every opportunity.

Finally, even though it's expensive and time consuming (and takes a certain amount of institutional intestinal fortitude), some investigative journalism would be nice to see. Frankly I see too much ...... (trying to think of the right word[s]) .. quick, superficial, non-confrontational articles, and I'm trying to recall the last time I read anything that exposed some serious wrongdoing or corruption concerning local public officials, organizations or businesses. To be fair, my memory is awful and I'm sure there have been some, but we both know the larger percentage goes unreported (and/or undiscovered).

I'm going to give the Monitor a shot and see how it goes, although I hope that I can pay 'in person' instead of online. I've been victim of numerous database breaches over the years including Concord Hospital, the VA, Student Loans, and most recently the Sony PlayStation Network (where thankfully I chose to use their prepaid cards instead of a credit/debit card). I hope they consider this option and develop a way of implementing it.

- BTW, I hope that it's only the AP [text] content the Monitor's opting not to use and not Jim Cole's outstanding photography!

* Consumer Price Index
** Too divisive & (many of) the regular 'article' comments are *more* than enough negativity/fringe (especially for the moderators).
*** This is the page you see if you look today.. Hey Clay, I must have missed your alert to save our blogs before they weren't available anymore? (I'm glad that I saved most of mine and didn't leave it to chance..).