Archived Story

Expect changes to website

Published 10:11am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

There is an ongoing, internal debate within the newspaper industry as to the future of newspapers and their companion websites.

More specifically, the debate is whether or not the publishing companies who produce them should charge readers a fee for access to the information and stories online that costs them the same amount of money and time to produce as it does in print. In other words, if we charge for the print version of the newspaper, why would we give the Internet version away for free?

In an age and time where more and more readers of newspapers are going online to do so, good business sense dictates that we shouldn’t.

We at The Tidewater News are fortunate in that, as a community newspaper, we haven’t lost our print version readers by the boatload as many metropolitan daily papers have for the last several years. In fact, the readership of our print version has remained relatively intact for quite some time.

However, like most newspapers, the readership of our online version has exploded, and has caused us to examine our business practices.

Our online readers are important to us, and their participation in our online forums has, in many ways, contributed to the increasing value of our online product.

So rather than risk driving you away by asking for payment to access the content on our website, we’re simply going to ask you to share your opinion.

In the next few days, visitors to will notice that when they click on certain stories, they will be asked to answer a brief one- or two-question survey.

The surveys, which are administered by Google and will only take a second or two to complete, will help the online giant provide marketing research to their online customers.

While it will take a little getting used to at first, there are a few important things we want our readers to know.

The questions will be short and simple, such as “what snack food do you prefer to eat while watching football, nachos or pizza?”

No one is attempting to steal your identity or gain access to any of your personal information.

By responding you will not be divulging any information that will open the floodgate to unwanted spam and solicitations.

By taking just a couple of seconds to answer a brief, one- or two-question marketing survey, access to our website will remain free.

Many other online newspapers are charging readers, and, after carefully examining the options, we have decided that we will not.

Our reason for including these online surveys is not to aggravate our readers, but to ensure that we can continue to provide our online content to you for free.

Our goal, as always, remains to be of service to our readers and our community.

If you have any questions or concerns over the new survey format, please let us know.

  • Makalani

    @chilmac72– RE:”I will start a petition to get you free access…”
    I wasn’t ignoring your post — I was done commenting until I scrolled down to the bottom. Thanks for your very generous offer! I will hold you to it because I got witnesses!

    As you may or may not know — I am a senior citizen on a fixed income. Some end of the months when I have splurged and the food banks are out — I buy cat food at Sprawl-Mart. I don’t own a cat! Lol

    So squeezing money out of a very tight budget to pay TN online access fees to harangue “err… err… debate” with — other online commentators is out of the question.

    Make that petition “lifetime free access” rather than month-to-month! If I am not grandfathered in — I might harangue “… err.. err… debate” with the wrong person and get booted! Thanx in advance!

    PS- Get that hooked up — I will forgive you for not agreeing with me! No shame to my game!

    Suggest Removal

  • Second Opinion

    The TN is well within its right to ask a charge for a non- subscriber to the print version. The present online service is a great ADDED benefit to regular print subscribers.

    There is a clear balancing act that TN has to perform to not drive its advertizers away by to high a minimun “hit” fee vs the cost of printing the paper if a below subscriber rate is allowed. The something for nothing folks will always play the odds and migrate to the “almost free” content.

    almost all websites add to your computer what is called a tracking cookie that logs hit to the site as well as advertizement viewed. Any site that has a search box is tracked anytime you do a search. That’s how Google,, Bing, and a host of the search engines make their money from advertizers which is the lifeblood of the communications industry.

    it is plain and simple. You can come by the house every now and then for the grile out or game party, but if you over to the point that the dog don’t bark at you no more, it’s time to pay some rent or bring groceries….LOL

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  • VirginiaBill

    [[Re: The surveys, which are administered by Google and will only take a second or two to complete, will help the online giant provide marketing research to their online customers.]]

    I noted several weeks ago that Google (or a similar entity) had started data mining my peregrinations across the web and used the results to tailor the ads I was treated to in the online version of TN. _MANY_ times when I visit an identifiable site that I had never visited before, or one not visited recently, I would start being served ads from the visited organization.

    I am not particularly offended by this, but wanted to insure that you were aware that you were requesting our permission to do something that was already being done, at least in some form…

    Suggest Removal

  • 23851reader

    I read several news feeds online, and I also subscribe to two for home hard-copy delivery. The Virginian Pilot offers their online edition free if you are a hard-copy subscriber. Another newspaper, that I don’t subscribe to, “counts” the number of times I visit their web site in a given calendar month, and after I read 10 articles, they “suggest” that I buy an online subscription.

    By the way, the Tidewater News has a promotional sale coming up on December 19. For one day only, you can subscribe or extend your subscription for 12 months at 33% off the regular rate! ….In case you missed it in the print edition.

    P.S. – No, I don’t work for the TN.

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  • RACN35

    i tried to subscribe to the print version… they wont drive 15 seconds or 500 feet from Meherrin Rd to drop off the paper … so I will continue to pop on here from time to time to read something I want… with as many advertisements you see when you come to the web site you would think the paper has made boatloads of money from all the advertising like Rawlings or Bobbys Muffler … just to name a couple that I see every time I come here …so now they want to collect from business to post ads here and collect again for them to pop up in our face ….

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  • Liberty With Responsibility

    This is going to make it more laborious for country folks who have to struggle with dial-up connections on line already—now having to click, and . . . . . .wait, and click, and . . . . wait. Repeat. etc.

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  • Makalani

    RE: “… you subscribe to the actual “paper” … should not have to pay for the online version.”

    Good point! A lot of newspapers have this policy. Hopefully — if it ever boils down to online readership fees — the TN will follow suit. I’m OK with that!

    RE: “… but it also might stop some of the rif-raft from posting…”
    “Riff raff” also have 1st Amendment rights! They may get the ACLU to sue the TN for making it harder to express their POV. lol

    Seriously — ALL POV make for interesting — lively discourse!

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  • RWH

    Well Tidewater News, you certainly are within your rights to charge for online viewing and I see you are working hard to avoid doing that very thing and that is good as I see it. A couple non-malicious surveys won’t kill anyone if thats what it takes to keep from charging but I don’t want to take a survey every time I log on either. I buy your newspaper from time to time but speaking for me only I like the online interaction much more.

    I used to have Direct TV at one time but it got more expensive that it was worth in my opinion so I cut it off altogether. I hope I won’t have to make that same decision with the Tidewater News down the road if it ever decides to charge for online subscriptions.

    Suggest Removal

  • workingtodamill

    There does have to be a line. It you subscribe to the actual “paper” paper, you should not have to pay for the online version. But I do agree that a free online version does take money out of your pocket, so I would not be against you charging those who so bot subscibe to the regular paper. Walmart doen’t give anything away for free, so why should you? Even if you do offset the cost with adds, it is actually not fair for me to pay your employees wages while others get the online version free. Your right Mak, not pointing at you, but it also might stop some of the rif-raft from posting on here too!

    Suggest Removal

    • RWH

      Riff-Raff you say! Hold on now, I highly represent that remark.

      Suggest Removal

  • Makalani

    Despite rising costs– I have faithfully subscribed to various newspapers for the last 40+ years. I like the tactile sensation of holding the newspaper! AND — online crossword puzzles are not as much fun!

    However — for whatever nonsensical reasons — I draw the line at paying (however modest) for reading online editions of newspapers. I would re-subscribe to your print edition!

    As much as I enjoy reading the TN online and participating in the forums — I would NOT PAY to do so.(A few people would probably shout “HALLELUJAH” while jumping for joy at my absence!) lol

    If online readers answering surveys helps to increase your ad revenue/keeps the online edition free — I am 10,000% in favor.

    However — if you use my info to hack into my online checking account — you are responsible for all of bounced-check fees.

    Suggest Removal

    • chilimac72

      No Mak, I would probably stop reading if I did not have your rants to entertain me. I would just stick to my “ink and paper” version. I usually do not agree with you, but you are entertaining. If they start charging I will start a petition to get you free access.

      Suggest Removal

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