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Print Subscribers Cry Foul Over WP's Online-Only Story

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the wonder-how-they-feel-about-online-coupons dept.

The Media 96

Hugh Pickens writes "The decision by the Washington Post to publish an article exclusively online has angered many readers who still pay for the print edition of the newspaper and highlighted the thorny issues newspaper editors still face in serving both print and online audiences. The 7,000 word story about the slaying in 2006 of Robert Wone, a young lawyer who was found stabbed to death in a luxurious townhouse in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington where a 'polyamorous family' of three men lived, is the sort of long-form reporting that newspaper editors say still justifies print in the digital age and many editors agree that print is still the place to publish deep investigative reporting, in part to give certain readers a reason to keep paying for news. 'If you're doing long form, you should do it in print,' said newspaper consultant Mark Potts. 'This just felt like a nice two-part series that they didn't have the room to put in the paper, so they just threw it on the Web.' Editors at The Post say they considered publishing the article in print, but they concluded it was too long at a time when the paper, like most others, was in dire financial straits and trying to scale back newsprint costs. 'Newspapers are going broke in part because news can be read, free of charge, on the Internet,' wrote one reader in a letter to the editor. 'As a nearly lifelong reader of The Post, I could not read this article in the paper I pay for and subscribe to; instead I came on it accidentally while scrolling online for business reasons.'"

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96 comments

long-form reporting...deep investigative reporting (0, Flamebait)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429267)

Can someone explain what this means in English? I've read parts of the Feynman physics lectures in a digital format - there's nothing special about bits of paper when it comes to conveying information. Sounds like the paper equivalent of 'vinyl sounds better than CD'.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429335)

They're subtle gay jokes the submitter slipped in, since this is a story about a gay rape/murder. I can't believe the Slashdot editors didn't notice.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429445)

ya like how they also put "polyamorous family" within the classic value-reducing single quote marks? Gotta love such open, progressive use of language.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429963)

My favorite was:

instead I came on it accidentally

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28430403)

Good for them; the idea of "polyamory" is bullshit. You can't love (in the romantic sense) more than one person. Try and it will always end in disaster.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28437633)

I agree. That is why I only love myself.

[Masturbation joke here.]

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429387)

I for one continue to enjoy the ability to read the paper while dropping a long-form turd from the depths of my bowels.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429669)

Laptop.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429823)

Smartphone.

I'll get off your lawn now, grandpa ;)

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430411)

Reason #937 why most keyboard have far more fecal coliforms on their surface than the average toilet seat.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (3, Insightful)

rwade (131726) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429405)

I stare at Excel just about all damn day.

The last thing that I want to do when I get home is stare at a screen for the 40 minute it takes to read an article that is as long as this one. As a matter of fact, I'd probably print that article out if it weren't in the paper that's delivered to my house.

Say what you will about vinyl, but there is a huge difference in the experience of reading on a computer screen that sits a foot in front of you and a paper you can hold in your lap while kicking back on the couch.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0, Troll)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429493)

Say what you will about vinyl, but there is a huge difference in the experience of reading on a computer screen that sits a foot in front of you and a paper you can hold in your lap while kicking back on the couch.

I hold my computer on my lap as a kick back on the couch - they call them laptops.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (2, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429593)

Say what you will about vinyl, but there is a huge difference in the experience of reading on a computer screen that sits a foot in front of you and a paper you can hold in your lap while kicking back on the couch.

I hold my computer on my lap as a kick back on the couch - they call them laptops.

I know, but there's something about the feel of a physical paper that's so much more pleasant than a bloody screen. I hate not being able to see the whole page in one view without having to scroll. It's like when I worked in a drawing office as a CAD draughtsman. Sure we'd long ago dispensed with the drawing boards and all the design work was done on screen, but when it came to reviewing drawings and looking for potential problems, checking calculations etc. it was time to run a plot and pore over the thing flat out on the desk. There'll always be a role for paper.

See also, from The Atlantic [theatlantic.com] (which I happen to buy in print form) on why The Economist newspaper is doing so well. The Economist uses long form reporting, doesn't charge for online content (except for the archives) and is still growing strongly.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

trentblase (717954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430167)

Instead of a table sized plot, I'd go with high resolution multitouch table display

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28436657)

I know, but there is something about the smell of a horse that is so much more pleasant than those new automobiles.

See ya later, grandpa...

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 5 years ago | (#28442379)

I know, but there's something about the feel of a physical paper that's so much more pleasant than a bloody screen. I hate not being able to see the whole page in one view without having to scroll.

I agree whole-heartedly! Unfortunately, the print version doesn't give me two VERY important things that I get in the online version: (1) Instant lookup of background I don't know - makes reading an article actually useful instead of a futile exercise in puzzle-solving; and (2) stories and content that I'm actually interested in instead of wading through a collection compiled for the national least common denominator. So, I would gladly trade the (secondary and frivolous) tactile and olfactory stimulation accompanying newspapers for the (primary and important) benefits I've outlined above. I do agree with the whole bird's-eye-view argument by parent and poster printing is the only solution I have for that. Surely, parent will agree that hand-drawing of CAD drawings is annoying beyond belief when it comes to editing said designs? So, I would (and do - I use CAD programs quite extensively) design the damn things on the screen, print it out, look it over for problems, re-edit and be happy :P. I don't see any problem with this hybrid solution - why must we all be philosophical purists? Hybrid != mongrel.

Aside from that, there's the greater portability in the digital version (smartphones/book readers anyone?) I have never been able to read newspapers while having food - just not dextrous enough perhaps. One-handed digital readers increase my available reading time dramatically by virtue of being able to include almost ANY damn 5-minute block where I'm not using both hands and performing an activity that doesn't require my full attention. There are many such short periods in a researcher's routine (waiting for a machine to do something, epoxy being degassed, parts being ultrasonically cleaned, etc.) and it is a pleasure to be able to squeeze some brain-time during these periods.

So, while my romantic side agrees with all the archaists in this (and similar) threads, the pragmatist in me recognizes why print media is essentially marginal as far as I'm concerned (I still like paper books for when I actually have free time - vacations for instance, or during the electronic embargo periods in airplanes). From an environmental point of view, newspapers are teh sux0rz :P and I couldn't be happier about that mode of distribution dying out (of course I feel bad about the lost jobs and such so I wouldn't actively wish for it - but if it happens, fine...)

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28430635)

Yeah, yeah, laptops are exactly the same as paper. I am 100% with you on this one. But, say, what happens if you casually drop your laptop on the floor, or use it to kill a fly, or ... fold it??

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 5 years ago | (#28442051)

Again with the opinionated modding. If you don't agree with a poster, say so ffs. Don't abuse your modding privileges. The idea of laptops is quite a valid counterpoint to OP. Even if you think it is not, "troll" is a childish way to lash back. Sheesh, where're my mod points when I need 'em?

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28447579)

Eh. The opinionated troll ratings are no less prevalent than the "you say what I agree with, and therefore it's insightful," moderation.

I still prefer the troll rating to the overrated rating - that's just someone who want's to downmod and doesn't have the balls to call the post troll or flamebait.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

narfspoon (1376395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429559)

The last thing that I want to do when I get home is stare at a screen for the 40 minute it takes to read an article that is as long as this one.

I found this earlier today: http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/8uffa/online_journalism_a_few_years_ago_vs_today_pic/ [reddit.com]

The real gems are the comments on how to improve your online readability with bookmarklets that change font & backgrounds.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432071)

"Comments from fucktards nitpicking insignificant bits of the story"

Well, from that diagram there it's clear that slashdot has made it's mark on journalism.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429589)

You can hold a laptop in your lap while you're kicking back on the couch. Or a smartphone. Or a Kindle thingy. Although from the name, I assume you're supposed to burn after reading.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

geobeck (924637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429985)

I stare at Excel just about all damn day.

The last thing that I want to do when I get home is stare at a screen for the 40 minute it takes to read an article that is as long as this one.

Of course not. And there's no way you'll stare at Slashdot long enough to read through the deep investigative long form reporting we get here...

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430581)

Of course not. And there's no way you'll stare at Slashdot long enough to read through the deep investigative long form reporting we get here...

There is a difference between reading slashdot online and reading long news articles.

Obviously it is impossible for me to participate in an online forum with a paper copy of the Washington Post. For some things a computer is great -- like providing interactivity. But interactivity is the last thing I need when I'm reading a long article telling a story of convoluted characters.

My point is that a paper copy does that function -- long-form reporting and analysis -- better than a computer screen.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28442385)

a computer screen that sits a foot in front of you

Umm, your sitting to close to the screen, you should be atleast arms length away...

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28442465)

Maybe he is very short.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28443403)

Vinyl still makes a lousy couch

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (2, Informative)

hwyhobo (1420503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429601)

Can someone explain what this means in English?

"Long-form reporting" and "deep investigative reporting" means "reporting the way it used to be done before we just started ripping the stories off newswire. Since now everyone can read the newswire, once in a while we have to send a reporter to actually do some... [gasp]... reporting."

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (2, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429687)

there's nothing special about bits of paper when it comes to conveying information.

No, but there is something special about the difference between the people who read the bits of paper and those who don't. The people who read the paper want the news in a longer format that takes more time. They want to read the news enough that they pay for it. When you put something on the web, it's usually accompanied by a place to put comments, many of which will cheapen the experience and provide a very shallow or biased viewpoint on the article. It's like saying that there's nothing special about the china cabinet when it comes to storing priceless antiques: you're correct in one sense, but mistaken in another.

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

charlieman (972526) | more than 5 years ago | (#28431239)

Paper has better resolution

Re:long-form reporting...deep investigative report (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 5 years ago | (#28442021)

Why the devil is this modded flamebait? Sounds like a legitimate question to me. Looks like parent accidentally burned a vinyl fetishist :P.

Put This on the Front Page (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429275)

First Post!

Crosswords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429291)

The only reason left to by a physical newspaper is because it is easier to do the crossword on one.

Froomkin? (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429795)

Ever since they fired Dan Froomkin a few days ago I haven't found a reason to read the Washington Post at all.

Boo Hoo (-1, Troll)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429409)

As a nearly lifelong reader of The Post, I could not read this article in the paper I pay for and subscribe to

Boo hoo, cry me a river

Ask your grandkids to go on the web and print it out for you... go to the public library... this is 2009 grampa

Sucks, but what are you going to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429501)

I could write more about why it sucks, but I think everyone gets it. Unfortunately, I have no answers for how to help the transition to online papers, or how to keep the print papers going. I totally see a need for both, but... what are you going to do? It doesn't look like they can co-exist.

Re:Sucks, but what are you going to do? (2, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429681)

what are you going to do?

Easy: If you're short on space and have to choose between something your readers can read for free online anywhere (newswire, syndicated columns, etc), and something they can only get from you (local news, investigative reporting), go with what makes your paper unique and adds value not available elsewhere.

Re:Sucks, but what are you going to do? (0, Troll)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429841)

If you want your dead-tree copy, hit the "print" button on the site. What is that you say, it costs too much to keep printing things like that? That's what the newspapers are finding out, too.

Re:Sucks, but what are you going to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28430465)

What's that? I already paid for a dead tree copy and don't want to pay for another? Hmm, this could be a problem.

Headline: (3, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429515)

Business transitions to more efficient distribution medium; Stragglers complain.

Film at 11.

Re:Headline: (4, Funny)

unfasten (1335957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430493)

Film at 11.

Don't you mean "Streaming digital video at 11"?

Re:Headline: (1)

Klaruz (734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430577)

Film at 11.

Don't you mean "Streaming digital video at 11"?

Or "Streaming digital video when you have some free time to watch it".

Re:Headline: (1)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432271)

Film at 11.

Don't you mean "Streaming digital video at 11"?

Or "Streaming digital video when you have some free time to watch it".

No you mean... buffering... buffering... buffering... buffering...

Tell me again when we are going to get anywhere near the bandwidth of the rest of the civilized world?

Re:Headline: (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28441771)

No you mean... buffering... buffering... buffering... buffering...

Tell me again when we are going to get anywhere near the bandwidth of the rest of the civilized world?

[Off-Thread warning]

I think things are improving. I'm in California and I just switched (back) to Comcast. I'm paying $19.99 a month (For 6 months, and then ~$44 a month) for 12-24mbps down and 1-3mbps up.

I get around 21mbps/1.5mbps during peak hours on speed test websites (means nothing, I know), and on average I get 10mbps down from sites that have the bandwidth.

The bottle neck for me nowadays seems to be the servers I'm accessing more than anything else.

Mind you this is in an older neighborhood that I thought was never going to get updated.

To me this is a huge improvement over last summer when I was paying Comcast $60 a month for 6mbps down and 768kbps up.

Re:Headline: (1)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28433001)

I think you have the correct idea with where the current generation is going. Only thing to add is, newspapers print day old news reported first on the net then on TV. I used to subscribe to both the Denver Post and Colorad Springs Gazette, they had different comics. I started to see that the Gazette would reprint the same stories that were in the Post, 1-3 days after they were in the Post. Then I started reading online news. I found the newspaper was printing 1-2 day old news as it was, unless it was super current(a disaster or some sort of political thing), then a day old at most. THey are a fossil of when it was ok for the newspaper to take a week to get to you in the Ohio valley from the east coast. Doom on them.

Re:Headline: (2, Funny)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432133)

Today the MainStreamMedia once more reported that: "Don't worry about unemployment, it's a lagging indicator."

2010: Don't worry about all those dead CEOs, lying dead in the streets after being brutally slain, that's just a lagging indicator of the economy.

Re:Headline: (2, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430743)

While there are two sides to this, those "stragglers" seem to be the ones footing the bills for the web presence - short of the ads that they are selling on their site, which are unlikely to be bringing in enough cash to buy a icypole during lunch.

Having said that, I doubt there is anywhere in the paper that says that ALL content online will also be in the printed format.

Re:Headline: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28448649)

Washington Post Digital is not the same as The Washington Post. They are both owned by The Washington Post Company, but the website makes its own money separate from the paper, and yes, it does support itself partly on ad revenue and not at all from print subscriptions.

Re:Headline: (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28431583)

Calling it a more efficient medium misses the essence of this.

If you're talking about the National Enquirer, then you might have a point...I'm not sure, I don't read it. For genuine newspapers... No.

The problem is that newspapers need to return to their roots...and there doesn't seem to be any way to do that. Most newspapers don't HAVE investigative reporters, so they don't have anything special to offer. So they not only are dying, they deserve to die. The ones that do, though, have a problem:

Those investigative reporters cost money and require influence. And their results are sporadic.
1) How do you cover your costs in the interim?
2) How do you maintain public support when nothing special is coming out?
3) How do you catch people's attention when you have something significant to report?

I'm not in the industry, so I haven't been looking, but I don't see any answers. Many to most stories are now being broken by bloggers, but that has the problem that they don't have significant political support, so unpopular results are subject to suppression...sometimes by unpleasant means. (Newspapers had this problem too, but they had a larger power-base behind them.)

Unfortunately, most non-local newspapers (and some of them) *deserve* to die. They don't fulfill their role in the social contract, and haven't since they were bought out be big businesses. (Think of how Hearst started the Spanish-American war.) It's always been a rather shaky deal, as by it's nature the role they were supposed to play could not be enforced, but newspapers were supposed to inform the public about the significant political events that were happening. When "significant" gets defined by a small group of people, even if such a group contains divergent ideas about what's significant, then the deal isn't being kept. And the contents of the newspapers (& network broadcast stations) is defined by such a small group. There are divergent voices, but they all speak to the opinions of the rich. Some are liberal, some are conservative, but they're RICH liberals and RICH conservatives. The only moderately wealthy don't have a voice....but when they become bloggers they do.

Somehow a method needs to be found to fuse the strengths of the mass media and the bloggers, but what way would work isn't clear to me. The Slashdot model shows promise, but it needs LOTS of refinements. Note that Slashdot has significant financial backing, but empowers diverse voices. But also note the weaknesses...Few to no original stories, excessive noise from trolls, etc. The lack of strong editorial controls is a necessity for this to work as I think it should, but perhaps there should be either community control of which stories are significant, or, perhaps better, agents for each member that learn which stories are interesting. (But SlashDot2 already has too much JavaScript. I've got a fast computer, and my browser occasionally asks if the JavaScript hasn't gone into a loop, and should it kill it? So this needs to be done in a faster language, and should probably be mainly done as background processing....at a *very* nice priority--- say a niceness of 18 [unless I have the priorities backwards].)

Re:Headline: (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28436277)

Please get me a monitor with the resolution, contrast ratio, portability and battery life of a magazine. Laptops are uncomfortable to read in bed, cannot be rolled up and shoved in a trouser pocket, and are harder on the eyes then newsprint in good light. When electronic distribution matches these advantages for print, I'll jump at it. But for the moment, for non-interactive, non-urgent, long-form information where you don't want search functions, print still rules. Which is still a large niche.

Not about the medium, about exclusives (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28436737)

Geeks will naturally jump on the digital vs. paper angle, but actually, this is about a much larger ethical issue: whether exclusives should exist at all. I've always considered exclusives to be unethical, since they're effectively a (relatively bad) form of DRM: you can know about an important issue in your society, but not if you get your information from our competitors. Now, they're taking it one step further: you can read the story, but not if you got the information in a certain format.

Re:Headline: (1)

hosecoat (877680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28438685)

This just in, there is stuff online that is not in the newspaper. Welcome to the 90s. You should also get upset at the hundreds of articles that were just tossed instead of going in the paper you pay for and subscribe to.

Backwards? (3, Insightful)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429527)

Why would they put long stories on the web, the sanctuary of the short attention span, and not in print, where people pay to spend a lot of time reading it?

Re:Backwards? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430769)

RTFA: They are trying to lower printing/paper costs by avoiding these longwinded 7000 word page-hog stories that take up the same amount as a handful of other normal stories.

Re:Backwards? (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#28443201)

Because printing a huge article costs significantly more to create in hard copy form.

And I got that from TFS, not even TFA.

But, given that you're talking about short attention spans I wonder if this wasn't perhaps a really well hidden joke...

I don't think he was looking for "business" (0, Troll)

Glass Goldfish (1492293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429531)

'As a nearly lifelong reader of The Post, I could not read this article in the paper I pay for and subscribe to; instead I came on it accidentally while scrolling online for business reasons.'

Who else thinks he came across it with a "gay polyamorous" Google search instead of "business reasons"?

It seems to me that the print media wants more eyeballs for greater ad revenue and it wants subscriptions at the same time. They pretty much have to choose one or the other. They can have a hybrid, but they have to put part of the website behind a paywall. And they'll have to give up some advertising money in exchange for subscription. With the Google lawsuits, it seems that a lot of newspapers expect Google to cover their red ink.

Not new (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429535)

The Wall Street Journal has been doing this for a while now. Lots of newspapers put movies on their websites. I admit I was kind of annoyed by it at first too, but after a while you just deal with it, and get your information where you can. There are still benefits of print.

Re:Not new (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429717)

Lots of newspapers put movies on their websites. I admit I was kind of annoyed by it at first too, but after a while you just deal with it, and get your information where you can.

Don't put up with it! Demand that they put movies in their newspapers too.

Long form (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429581)

Seems to me like long form would be perfect for the digital version, since there's infinite space.

Make the print version short form instead, to make the production cheaper!

A likely story (4, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429673)

Quoth TFA:

In one letter that The Post published after its article ran online, a reader wrote: "Newspapers are going broke in part because news can be read, free of charge, on the Internet. As a nearly lifelong reader of The Post, I could not read this article in the paper I pay for and subscribe to; instead I came on it accidentally while scrolling online for business reasons."

A story about three polyamorous men living together and you found it while surfing the net for "business reasons?" Yeah, right!

Re:A likely story (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430461)

He was obviously looking for insights on how to market his new product, which is targeted at polyamorous gay men. There slogan is: "New Circle Jerk(TM) Beer! For men who like men -- lot's of them!"

Re:A likely story (0)

zevans (101778) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430835)

This story appeared on my Slashdot front page right next to the one about condom research. Are they by any chance related? I think we should be told.

You don't pay for the paper (2, Interesting)

mdf356 (774923) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429691)

Even with a subscription you're not paying for the paper. The nominal cost of the subscription or the news stand price covers approximately the cost of the physical paper (roughly; more or less depending on paper size and price). The reporters, staff, printing press, etc., etc., are all paid for by advertising, which is a much larger cost than $1.00 or so per day.

The only difference with the online version is that no one has managed to get the advertising revenue to match costs yet. And in fact, this is becoming more of a problem with the print version, as the ad revenue falls due to falling circulation.

But the point is, even folks who "pay for the paper" aren't doing so; it's a specious argument.

Re:You don't pay for the paper (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28431973)

"But the point is, even folks who "pay for the paper" aren't doing so; it's a specious argument."

No it isn't.

The subscription does pay for the paper, otherwise you wouldn't get a copy. Sure, it only covers a portion of the cost but without delivery and subscriptions most papers cease to exist. What's the point of paying for ads in the paper if nobody sees them?

The real problem is that newspapers never bothered to tell their readers this. Some still don't. Probably because it would tarnish their "reputation" as an "unbiased" source of news. Readers might wonder about their motives if they realized that they are the product rather than the customers....

Re:You don't pay for the paper (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432187)

True. If newspapers could axe the cost of printing(materials, delivery, presses, facilities, staff, etc), they could probably still pay for their news-generating staff with a fraction of the advertising revenue.

Our local paper pulls this crap all the time (1)

spywhere (824072) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429751)

To really know what's happening in northern Delaware, you need to haunt the Wilmington News Journal's Web site. They post breaking news all day, including many stories that will never make it into the paper... and the links to those stories vanish when the dead-tree edition hist the driveway.

Re:Our local paper pulls this crap all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28433409)

To really know what's happening in northern Delaware

Oh god, yes, it's really necessary to have up-to-second information on BREAKING NEWS in northern Delaware.

Re:Our local paper pulls this crap all the time (0, Offtopic)

jtev (133871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28441451)

It can be, if you live there, or do business there. If not, then well, it doesn't matter to you, and since it's nicely contained on that newspaper's website, you don't have to follow it. Thank you for completly missing the point. I'm sure the poster apreciates being trolled by an AC who most likely lives nowhere near him about his local news.

Funniest tag I've seen (1)

Exception Duck (1524809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429765)

"Businessreasons" :)

Good one. Mod tagger up.

different media, different audiences (1)

yog (19073) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429817)

The reader who complained should simply bookmark washingtonpost.com and skim it daily for content that is not provided in the print edition. For example, many of their articles have very active talkback forums or blogs that obviously are not possible in the print edition.

Really, today's news market is subdivided into many categories--traditional print readers, casual online skimmers, and serious online readers come to mind. Then there are news aggregators such as Yahoo and Google that present a portal format to readers (like myself).

I read the online WaPo just about every day, plus WSJ, NYT, and a couple of the prominent aggregators. That's about all I need and have time for. I wouldn't have time to read a paper edition, and plus it's full of junk that I wouldn't normally click on. I suspect there are millions of others with needs similar to mine.

Probably print will shrink while online grows and diversifies. Ultimately we'll likely have news feeds into our handhelds that will be aggregations of various news syndications. There will still be plenty of demand for "deep" reporting, but it likely will not be in print eventually. And the trees will celebrate this fact.

Re:different media, different audiences (1)

zevans (101778) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430951)

I read the online WaPo just about every day, plus WSJ, NYT, and a couple of the prominent aggregators. That's about all I need and have time for. I wouldn't have time to read a paper edition, and plus it's full of junk that I wouldn't normally click on. I suspect there are millions of others with needs similar to mine.

Indeed there are - which is why there is such a thriving market in free daily newspapers on public transport now in the UK. I hope you're not going to suggest flaunting an expensive and highly desirable gadget in peak time on an underground train would be a viable alternative.

I used to like the Washington Post online.... (3, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429867)

... but last week they fired Daniel Froomkin who was one of the more fearless critics of the power that be. He was pretty merciless to the Bush administration across a range of issues including torture. Then to show he is a class act he was starting to be a pretty merciless critic of the Obama administration too. I think he was having some kind of spat with the Post's resident right wingnut ... Krauthammer but I would be interested if anyone knows the dirt on why exactly he was fired. To fire Froomkin and keep Krauthammer has dramatically diminished my opinion of the Post and I am not reading it at all lately.

Even prior to firing Froomkin my impression is the quality of their editorials, and original news reporting in general, has been in steep decline lately.

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430067)

Even prior to firing Froomkin my impression is the quality of their editorials, and original news reporting in general, has been in steep decline lately.

As someone who's lived in the DC area for over 25 years, it's been more than 'lately'. Try at least 15-20 years.

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430807)

Well since I've never lived anywhere near D.C., which is something I am very happy about, I didn't really start reading it until their online version took off. I did like Froomkin's stuff even though he was often just aggregating snippets from around the web to make his point. I liked Broder and even Ignatius for old school, though I take Ignatius with a heavy dose of salt. At this point there aren't any of their other editorialists I go out of my way to read. It scares me a little but I'm mostly just reading the New York Times lately, some New Yorker, some Counterpunch for left field stuff, occasionally Christian Science Monitor and like everyone else a lot of Google News.

I'd like to balance it out with something conservative but haven't found anything with substance worth the time, I'm trying National Review but I don't think its what it was under Buckley. Anyone know a good conservative online news source, that has substance and isn't just a bunch of wingnuts sawing the same horses they've been sawing since Reagan... like Fox?

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430795)

I would be interested if anyone knows the dirt on why exactly he was fired. [snip] he was starting to be a pretty merciless critic of the Obama administration

You answered yourself. His boss(es) liked the previous eight years' material, and were shocked and dismayed that he was a good journalist instead of the biased one they thought he was. Of course, they might actually think he _became_ biased.

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (0, Offtopic)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430967)

LOL, well that suspicion certainly had crossed my mind. I sure hope its not the truth because it reaffirms everything the right says about the Post, and about the undeserved honeymoon the "Liberal" media is giving Obama.

I give Obama some credit for not being a liberal ideologue the right painted him to be, but there are a lot of issues where he really has turned out to be Bush Lite and we needed a lot cleaner break from Cheney Inc. than he's given us. His failure to stop warrantless wire tapping in particular has dropped him a few notches in my eyes though it was obvious from his Senate votes that was coming. That brain dead stimulus package he signed was probably the worst. If they had spent that money intelligently they could have solve our energy problems, and maybe health care and education too, instead they added a trillion to our national debt and we are getting nothing out of it. If nothing else hand out coupons for appliances and stuff like the Chinese, at least their stimulus seems to be actually working.

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28431203)

Agreed about the energy. One of the reasons our country became so wealthy during the early 20th century was the amount of energy and resources we could tap compared to other countries (and we weren't in WWI/WWII until others wasted resources). Some Fusion or other energy would give our economy a big kickstart. Just making energy cheap and available would open up new manufacturing and transportation venues.

Re:I used to like the Washington Post online.... (1)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28437499)

You answered yourself. His readers liked the previous eight years' material, and were shocked and dismayed that he was a good journalist instead of the biased one they thought he was. Of course, they might actually think he _became_ biased.

FTFY. From the ombudsman blog [washingtonpost.com] :

Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt, whose stable of contributors includes Froomkin, said late Thursday: "With the end of the Bush administration, interest in the blog also diminished. His political orientation was not a factor in our decision."

Print isn't dead! (1)

MrDelSarto (95771) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429869)

You know what's ironic - I went to read that article and the first thing I looked for was the "Print" view so that I could read it without all the crap around it. So print isn't dead!

"Polyamorous" murderers? Big surprise. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429927)

Who needs those lame, oppressive moral values, like fidelity and not murdering people?

mod 3own (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28429939)

tro0bled OS. Now niggerness? And

How many is "many?" (1)

ACMENEWSLLC (940904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28429955)

I would like to know many is "many"???? Are we talking 20 people?

Did the paper actively seek out people to add to this "many" count by saying polling with misleading questions?

Sounds like a case of people bitching just to bitch, which people love to do. I pay for XMRadio so I can listen to Foxnews. But NO, I can't stream it through the online XMRadio player, and I have to pay an extra $3/mo to even stream XM on my iPhone. Wahh. Yet Fox News is free to stream through iTunes under radio stations. This seems like a much more interesting story than, OMG, a new paper published one article online which was not in print.

The Reason it wasn't n Print: It wasn't Very Good (4, Informative)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430011)

The article was actually a series of three articles about the bizarre circumstances surrounding the death of a young man in DC, while he was staying over at the house of three gay friends (who were involved in a three-way relationship) in a wealthy section of DC. The three friends reported being asleep and waking up to find their guest murdered (I'm greatly simplifying.) The police think the three gay men were involved in the murder and have concocted a bizarre (not saying wrong or right -- but it is bizarre) story that the guest was accidently killed in sex game run amok, and that the three .

Honestly, the story wasn't very good. There was no lede. There were no breaks in the case reported for the first time by the paper. The main thing it had going for it was group sex. The strong implication of the article was that the police thought these three guys were guilty because they were into kinky group sex and S&M. Then when it came time to actually prove something, there was all-too-common in DC story of police labs losing evidence and screwing up.

I'm sure the Post editors compared this sensationalist story with the Chandry Levy expose they printed maybe a years ago (which I understand actually led to someone being arrested), and found it lacked oomph. There was no there there as an old boss used to say. Combine that with the obvious homophobia of the police detectives initially assigned to the case, and the whole thing was a muddled morass of conflicting information. Clearly the housemates were not entirely forthcoming and that their stories were not entirely consistent, but there was no clear evidence that they committed murder either.

I don't see the problem (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430175)

A newspaper subscription doesn't entitle you to everything the newspaper company publishes. For example, you don't automatically get the various foreign language editions. Regional editions often contain different material. It seems to me that the only problem here is the subscriber's attitude.

sex with a shiAt (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28430179)

it's gHoing,

Came *across* it... (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430417)

"I came on it accidentally"

Ha, could have chosen better words!

Re:Came *across* it... (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28430733)

THAT's what will save print journalism! Page 3 girls in print editions only!

moD 0p (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28431363)

ooficial GNAA irc profits without lesson and Move forward, be 'very poorly YES! thing for the or a public club, bulk of the FreeBSD

long form better online! (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#28431471)

No ink costs & no layout worries. As a former reporter, I gotta say, almost all problems I see with the newspaper industry, as with the U.S. auto industry, are of their own making. *shrug*

Re:long form better online! (4, Interesting)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28432341)

Long form is way better online these days. I'm working in this field, and I'd expand on your reasons greatly:

  • Long form journalism doesn't sell papers -- the sports pages do. As advertising dollars erode, this kind of journalism WILL go to other venues, be it regional or highly local papers or the web.
  • The audience for long-form investigative journalism is almost certainly mainly well educated and mainly online.
  • The physical constraints of the format and the distribution mechanism of newspapers means is outdated: You can create much richer context around a story -- using multimedia, 3rd party resources, etc -- using good old hyperlinks.
  • Layout and design still matters -- you still have to produce online pieces. But it doesn't require a genius to do this -- certainly not the many layers of bureaucracy I hear about from reporters at the Post and the Chicago Tribune in getting their work online.
  • If you want a printable version (perhaps of a culmative project), provide it as a PDF.
  • Online resources are far easier to track, note, and share with tools like Google Reader or Zotero.
  • The Internet is at least as great a venue of influence as printed material these days -- big, big stories have debuted online in recent years. If part of the point of long-form journalism is to influence discourse, policy, and decision-making, then you need to go where you have leverage.
  • That quote -- 'If you're doing long form, you should do it in print' -- is pure, unadulterated dogma, unmoored from any reality. If you're doing long form, you aren't doing it for the dailies or the alternative weeklies anymore, most likely. Some, if not all, of your professional life will be online or bump up against Internet technologies. If you need a printed product, you have options (get your audience to help; print high quality single page magazine-covers-without-the-magazine with story snippets and your URL...), you can do events, but your primary channel of distribution is very likely going to be the Internet.

    People who are whining that a story whose primary audience is probably 99% online didn't make it into a format that is hemhoraging money are out of their damn minds, and probably will soon be out of business, too.

Gossip magazines (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28435635)

I was just reading an article [economist.com] that suggests doing it the other way round is the correct way.

Lsat Psot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28436427)

Last post!

re: WP's online-only article (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28437473)

Dang.. I didn't know Wikipedia had print subscribers....

Do they mail in the edits they want to make to articles, or something?

Also (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28442113)

stamps used to host a nickle!

Wake up. Print is dead.

the only reason this is true:
. 'If you're doing long form, you should do it in print,'
is to sell more print;however the cost difference is so great it's hardly a long term plan.
WP is probably making plans to go all online. If they aren't they better be making plans it down size, and then go bankrupt.

Print is expensive. We will have groups who make money and pay people to report. This won't change; just the method of doing so will.

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