The Commercial Appeal is on the brink of introducing a plan that will require readers to pay for online content. The details have not been formally announced, but the CA's twitter feed has been all over it today, as has the Memphis Twittersphere — pro and con. The cost for online access will be around $10 a month, but access will be free for those who subscribe to the paper product. Editor Chris Peck announced the change in a January editor's letter.
It's a bold plan, one that could play out in a number of directions. The ideal, one would assume, is to garner more subscribers to the paper product with this strategy and keep many online-only readers. At roughly $120 a year, online access is almost double the price of a paper subscription. So, logically, if one wanted to save money, one would subscribe to the paper for $68 a year, save $52, and get both. (Update: My wife informs me we pay $156 a year for the CA, making my math totally wrong. If one went online only, one would save $36 or so over the paper subscription.)
Of course, another scenario could be that thousands of people just say "screw it" and stop visiting the CA website AND continue not subscribing to the paper. That would be ugly.
Or maybe the thinking is, "We're getting nothing for online content now (except for a few online ads), so why not try to get at least something out of the readers?"
Or — and here's my theory — they're just trying anything they can to run off their idiot commentors. It'll be interesting to watch how it plays out.