You've had a good run, Vashon and Maury Island news readers. But starting today, if you want to go online to get the kind of in-depth island reporting one can only find in the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, you're going to have to pay.
Citing similar plans by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal to set up paywalls (note: that's two of the nation's most storied and respected publications), and previous paywalls set up by the Spokane Spokesman Review and Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (two far less storied publications), Beachcomber Editor Leslie Brown writes:
"Unlimited free access to online content has affected newspapers' bottom line, some industry analysts say, because it amounts to giving away a product that costs money to produce."
Online reaction to the decision has, thus far, been almost exclusively negative.
I think the Beachcomber should spend some time with its online presentation before requesting payment for its services.
The layout is poor. The flow is lacking and local advertisers get no representation even though they pay for it in print.
Ivan Weiss writes:
I won't pay a nickel to read the Beachcomber online, any more than I do for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or any other news source. I respect you and the work you do, but I assure you I will get all the Vashon news I need to get without subsidizing a business model that is doomed from the outset.
The good news for any other newspaper is that they get to watch this experiment in rural newspaper pay modeling play itself out. And if the Beachcomber can get readers to switch from getting online content for free to paying monthly subscription charges for it, conventional wisdom says that any publication can.
Vashon and Maury Island residents who are determined to stay up on local news, but don't want to pay for a subscription to the Beachcomber are advised to look out their windows from time to time.