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Free Press Bluffing

I wrote a post the other day about being denied access to The Burlington Free Press Online because I haven’t purchased a $144 per year subscription.  In the post I made a counter-offer of $20 for a year subscription.  I am now rescinding the counter-offer.

Since I wrote that other post I have not purchased a subscription, but I have been enjoying Free Press content anyway.  After I had supposedly used up my 10 free articles- I tried their site with a different browser and it worked for a few more.  I have continued to read articles on my Blackberry free without warnings or interruptions… and guess what?  If you arrive at a Free Press article from a link on Twitter- you will get it free with a little pop-off bluff- a phony admonition that “this is your last free article.”  I’ve read my “last” free article at least a dozen times already this way.

They are bluffing.  Charging any amount for their online content will cause the Free Press’s readership to evaporate.  Perhaps they have calculated that they can’t afford not to charge for the content.  They will also soon conclude (and perhaps they already have) that they cannot afford to exclude non-paying readers from it.

Adapt or die Free Press.  That means all advertising and no subscription revenue.  Far fewer staff and far better content.  Good luck.


1 Lea Terhune { 06.20.12 at 11:15 pm }

I have mixed feelings about this. I like the new format, more in-depth reporting, more local content, and I like the reporters and writers and want them to be paid fairly. We have a paid subscription for home delivery, and I think that should cover on-line reading as well.

2 Nate Orshan { 06.21.12 at 7:39 am }

I’m with Lea. I’ve paid for the Freeps for well over two decades and I want Burlington’s (if not Vermont’s) newspaper of record to do well and do a good job at reporting the things that are really important, i.e., government (not politics) coverage, issues that have an impact on our livelihoods and how we live, and Vermonters doing interesting things that we might not otherwise have heard about.

If they were doing a good job at these, I’d begrudge the quasi-paywall less. As it is, it seems insulting. “Wait, you spend $2.4 million on a spiffy new press, not on human resources to report and edit, and, on top of that, you’re forcing non-subscribers to subscribe to get your lightweight content?”

I only hope that pushback from sources such as helps change things. Meanwhile, I’m doing my bit by trying to shame them a bit whenever I spot an egregious editing mistake. Just search for #WhyEditorsMatter (e.g., ).

3 Jay Vos { 06.21.12 at 9:28 am }

Good one, Haik. I had the same warnings, but didn’t continue by using another browser.

Seven Days has been poking fun at the Freeps for their (the Freeps) major build up on the improvements. It was getting out of hand, every day some of the articles about it were longer than their regular reporting.

When I moved to Burlington 10 years ago, immediately I subscribed and four days later I canceled. Terrible paper. Nothing in it for me. Occasionally I will pick up a copy if there is anything about city government, a reporting of a city council, NPA, commission meeting I’ve attended.

Besides it’s a Gannett paper, corporate owned and beholden to the advertisers’ dollars.

4 MJ Farmer { 06.23.12 at 11:44 am }

I have subscribed to the free press for over 20 years. I enjoy reading it at 6am with my morning coffee. I do not like the new paper. It is hard to find any articles and it is stapled together like the tabloid papers. Where on earth is the weather section? The classified section is before any VT news. Where are the headlines? Near the end. Where is the sports? at the end. I am very disappointed in my new paper and am considering cancelling my subscription. Maybe I’ll do like Haik and read it for free.

5 Haik Bedrosian { 06.27.12 at 8:19 am }

The “last article” trick works via google too. Just search for the title you’re “locked out” of and click the search result link. You will be able to read the whole article.