Monday, September 26, 2011

Baltimore Sun Blues

Up until now, The Sun has been pretty blog friendly for a mainstream media group. They host The Mobbies, an annual reader competition for the best (or most popular) of the Baltimore blogosphere. They provide feeds to some local blogs with their HoCo loco coverage. In August they even sponsored a HoCo Blogtail party.

That’s making a real statement to bloggers.

It’s noticed too, at least by me anyway. Two years ago, The Sun wasn't in the top five of referring sites to Tales of Two Cities. Last year they were the  number three referring site after Google and HoCo Rising. Right now they are number two, second only to Google and the gap is closing.

It is a relationship I respect. Whenever I link to their content I always provide attribution to both the company and the writer. On occasion they have even returned the favor.

That’s why I’m troubled by their digital plans. The announcement by Timothy Ryan, in Sundays edition that the media group would soon be charging for online content took me somewhat aback.

I don’t really have a problem with paying for content. In addition to The Sun I also subscrbe to The Washington Post and The New York Times. Earlier this year, The NYT also moved to charging for its online content. If you are already an NYT subscriber there isn’t any additional charge though. That seemed fair.

The Sun doesn’t give its print subscribers the same courtesy. Instead they offered their loyal print subscribers a 75% discount off the regular online charge.

It’s almost as if they want me to drop the print subscription altogether. A years subscription to the print edition comes out to about three hundred bucks. They plan to charge a little over a hundred bucks for the online edition.

I think I get that. I’m not sure I like it but I get it.
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