Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Black Press subscriber papers go to pay wall

March 28, 2012 5 comments

Black Press has followed an increasing number of newspaper publishers around North America and instituted a pay wall to access online content for those of its papers that aren’t free.

The pay wall hasn’t descended on every one of its subscription papers (Salmon Arm Observer and Trail Daily Times content, for two is still free.)

But other papers, like the Ladysmith Chronicle, are already behind the wall. Click on some of the Chronicle’s stories and you get redirected to a screen that says:

Welcome to

The content you are trying to access requires a subscription.

If you are already a print subscriber, this online access is part of your subscription. Just click on Register and then Activate Digital Add On on the next two screens to activate the online portion of your subscription.

If you are not a current subscriber, you can create an account and purchase a Print and Digital Subscription or Digital Only Subscription on the next page.

Click Help for further assistance.

Thank you.

Black Press has posted a FAQ about its paywall. Here are the three most interesting Qs and As:

Q: Why has the paper chosen to make some of its content “Premium Content?”

A: Like any business, we need to price our product in such a way that we can continue to provide the level of quality to which our customers have grown accustomed. Maintaining our staff of talented local journalists, sales people and designers would not be possible without subscription fees. This also corrects an anomaly that’s existed for years – where our print subscribers paid to read our stories, which were available online free. This properly recognizes the value all our subscribers place on our content.

Q: Will the entire site require a subscription?

A: No, much of the content on our site will still be free, including: breaking news, calendar, and all facets of provincial coverage. Subscriptions are required to access our in-depth local news, sports, opinions and features.

Q: Can I buy a subscription on the website?

A: Yes. You can pay for delivery of our print edition plus online access, or just the online access quickly and easily through our site.


This strikes me as a good, easy move that should have been made long ago. While there is an argument to be made for a paid paper in a large city to offer its content for online for free (particularly if it has free competitors), it seems stupid to do so in a small community where you already charge for your paper and where you have no free competition. This will again reinforce the need for Salmon Arm and Trail residents to go out and buy their local paper. While I guess it could hurt online advertising, that’s still a small slice of revenues compared to the money made from ads in the print editions of those not-free papers. In a community like Ladysmith, nobody is going to be able to make money running a free online news site—at least not for many years.

Now will Glacier follow suit with some of its papers? The Prince George Citizen seems to hold back much from its paper editions, but some of the smaller subscription papers still post much, if not all, of their content online.

P.S. If anybody at those papers has an opinion, please weigh in. Also, if, in a couple months, somebody could forward me pre-paywall and post-paywall subscription numbers, or email me about how a paywall affects their subscriptions, it would be much appreciated.

Good idea? Bad idea? Leave a comment.


Breaking: Newspaper has website

December 16, 2011 2 comments

News flash: The Castlegar News is on the Internet. Who would’ve thunk it — a newspaper, in 2011 no less, accessible by the Internet.

Below you will find two examples of news stories — with bylines featuring the names of real journalists — the sole purpose of which is to alert reader’s to the Black Press-owned paper’s website.

First thing: my amusement here is focused solely on whoever decided these stories should run in such a format. (Presumably, and I can only presume, the blame lies with the publisher.)

That out of the way, there’s no way in hell that these stories should ever have bylines attached to them. A byline is all a writer has. Don’t waste it.

I have seen small brief-y stories in the editorial section that are ostensibly advertising for something that has to do with the paper. I don’t really see much of a problem with that, so long as they’re shilling an editorial, or even an editorialish product. The website is such a thing. But don’t just announce, in 2011, that you have a website when 1) you have operated the same website for years; 2) it’s 2011; and 3) there’s nothing groundbreaking or new about it. Sure, if you replace your shitty old website with a beautiful new one, let your readers know about it. But the article should NOT bear a reporter’s byline. Never. Ever.

It just looks, frankly, ridiculous.

Leave a comment.



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Black Press bails on anonymous comments

November 21, 2011 3 comments

Today, Black Press announced that it was changing its online comments policy and will henceforth only allow readers to comment after signing in with their Facebook identity.

Rob DeMone explained the move thusly:

The policy has led to some unpleasant and mean-spirited postings. It’s also raised an inconsistency in our Black Press​ brand. Our community newspapers don’t print anonymous letters, yet we’ve allowed our websites to become a place where people can hide their identity while occasionally taking shots at one another.


DeMone notes that the move is of a kind with those made by other media companies which have introduced similar policies. He says it has resulted in good discussion with less sniping and assholery.

The downside is obvious: no Facebook profile, no comments. Indeed, it has already drawn the ire of commenters for that reason.

But DeMone has responded by noting that those people can always send a letter to the editor. Which seems like a good comeback.

My take is that, all things considered, only a tiny fraction of those who read Black Press papers end up commenting online. So even if you drive all of them away, it’s probably not going to hurt the paper. But by putting a name to a comment, the policy should encourage the less-crazy-but-still-opinionated slice of society to take part. It may also (although I’m unsure of the law surrounding comments) insulate the chain from the legal risk posed by anonymous comments. It sure can’t hurt.

Of course, you can still leave a comment on this blog, anonymously or not. I continue to allow anonymous comments because sometimes, when discussing one’s employer, it’s necessary to avoid using one’s name. On other topics, it’s less desired. I would block a comment that uses anonymity to attack another journalist, but fortunately the blog’s readership is such that I’ve never had to do so.

Leave a comment below.

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Another PR Peak Q&A

April 11, 2011 Comments off

So it would seem that I wasn’t the only person with the genius idea to send a bunch of questions to the Powell River Peak’s Tyson Fandrick about his newfangled iPhone/iPad/iEverything else app. Catherine Litt of the Kamloops Daily News did pretty much the same thing on her  B.C. Newspapers Blog.

But I got it up first so first, to Catherine: “Na na na na nana. In your face!”

That said, you can read her post here.

Get your e-newspaper delivered weekly

March 30, 2011 Comments off

If apps are the news delivery system of the future, news digests sent directly to your inbox are the way of the Internet past.

Which is not to say they’re not a good idea.

Now, when you visit certain (all?) Glacier Media websites, you first have to get rid of a box asking if you would like to subscribe to a web edition of the paper to be delivered to your e-mail on certain dates.

This isn’t a new idea and doesn’t exactly involve advanced technology. Heck, you can sign up for an email subscription to this blog by clicking the button on the right toolbar. But for people who aren’t web savvy consumers (a group that includes the vast majority of Canadians and newspaper readers) being confronted with the option to sign up for an email digest is the best way to make the option known.

The email digest, in turn, allows newspapers another way to brag to advertisers about dedicated online readers. Each one of those subscribers is probably far more valuable than 1,000 page views.

Of course, you don’t want to make visiting the news sites annoying (like the feeling that comes from that pop-up video ad on many Black Press websites).

You can make the alerts stop by checking a box. But remember what I said above about the Internet literacy of Canadians? I bet most people will miss that. Glacier, then, will have to be careful not to make the box a permanent and regular feature of visiting their sites. (They seem to have done so. I can’t get the subscription box back up on my screen, even though I didn’t click the box).

Categories: Technology Tags: ,

Powell River Peak launches iPhone app

March 28, 2011 1 comment

I was going to do a roundup, but then I ran into three very interesting things about which I’d like to write in detail. Coincidentally or not, they all revolve around Glacier Media properties. (Given my enthusiasm for the three, and given the conspiracy-mindedness of some people, it bears mentioning that I don’t work for Glacier). I’m going to spread them out over the next three days so I don’t have to write anything else for those days.


This first one is absolutely huge.

The Powell River Peak has launched its own iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app. To download it, go to the iTunes store and search “Powell River Peak.”

I don’t have one of the above devices, so I can’t properly review it, but I’ve raved before about the wonders of the PR Peak website, and I’ve no reason to believe the app will be any worse.

Here’s a screen shot from iTunes.

I’m going to try to do something more on this in the coming days, but in the meantime, a couple early notes:

1. The app is free and advertising supported. While that’s consistent with the newspaper’s business platform, I wonder if the Peak isn’t missing out on revenue, given that people have actually shown a willingness to pay for apps, including news apps, and given the fact that right now the Peak doesn’t have any local competitors in the Powell River news app field. Then again, in a small community like Powell River, where many people don’t own iPhones, you’re going to want everyone who does have an Apple device to download your app.

2. This leads one to wonder how long it will take for other community papers to follow suit. It seems likely that other Glacier papers — most likely the dailies — will be the next to adopt the technology, once any kinks are worked out of the Powell River app and if it proves popular-ish. But then again, they haven’t adopted the overall wonderfulness of the Peak’s website, so who knows.

Since the Vancouver Sun and the Province have apps, PostMedia seems like it should have all the tools to allow its community newspapers to have their own apps.  But the PostMedia community newspaper web effort has been pretty dismal to this point and there’s no indication that that will change anytime soon.

I’m going to guess that Black Press has something in the incubator, but given the fact that the chain is still unreasonably obsessed with video, one can’t be sure.

Black Press website tweak: pass or fail?

February 25, 2011 2 comments

We’ve seen hints of this over the past couple months, but this week (or maybe last?) Black Press tweaked their websites. The sites now feature, above the video bar: one top story with a photo, lede and largish headline; a secondary story with a thumbnail photo and a smaller, but still prominent headline; and 15 small headlines. The stuff below the bar remains the same.

What this does is place more news stories on the front page. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a very good tweak. There are more headlines to catch the eye and no longer will I have to click the “more news” tab when I’m feeling especially curious about what interesting stories the paper may have produced.

The only thing I’d change is that I would add a deck headline to the secondary story; although given that most of the stories are shoveled onto the sites by web folk far removed from the editorial process, that’s probably not practical.

Your thoughts?


That was a pretty good post, eh? Or not? Either way keep them coming by helping me out. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll shamefully update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

Categories: Technology Tags: ,
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