Monday, August 31, 2009

P-G launches an online salvo

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has launched a War on Bloggers. Sure, we all knew this day was coming, but I think we deserved more of a warning. The P-G is adding a membership-only feature to its Web site that will require a $36 annual fee to access a major portion of the online information. I applaud the P-G for having the guts - and the content - to roll out this program. But why are they announcing this less than eight hours before it goes online at midnight?

For the past week, I saw vague advertisements in the print edition touting a GIANT + that didn't even begin to explain what would be coming. So we now have to react immediately by signing up for a membership that we don't entirely understand. I would suggest the P-G offer a 30-day trial period to the public, then pull the plug after we become acquainted with the new site. Otherwise, I'm going to wait until I see what content I'm losing before dropping $36 on something I don't necessarily need.

I think we're all interested in seeing how this works because the P-G is now the leading edge for online content. All I know, though, is that I just found a new blog about the WVU Mountaineers, and I'm going to be pretty disappointed if I lose it after one day. Plus, I don't know how Pirates Nation will do without the PBC Blog by Dejan Kovacevic if that is included in the package, as well. On second thought, to whom do I make out the check?


  1. I might be inclined to pay the 4 or 5 bucks for the first month just for the sake of research...

    I'm going to have to play with the PG website now... I never really went there for news, blogs, entertainment... or any other reason...

    I am DYING to see how this works out for them...

  2. I have three of the P-G's blogs listed on my sidebar favorites. I think they do a really good job. All of them offer a lot of different information and links you can't find in print or on the Web site. In fact, the PBC Blog regularly gets 200 comments per story.

  3. The P-G is offering monthly memberships. I'm curious if it will make any money.

  4. I wonder what their expectations are... and I wonder if the members only section will also be ad supported... It would be interesting to see how that works if both subscription and ads exist simultaneously...

    Let's say they get 10,000 subscribers... that would be HUGE! 360 grand in revenue just like that... but then you'd also have a hard and fast record that there are only 10k eyes on the pages... That would make it uber-hard to sell ads if all you can deliver is 10k individuals... but who cares? You just nabbed 1/3 of a mil for nadda...

    Now, is it a success if they only get 1,000 subscribers?

    I am DYING to know how this works out for them... I am considering pursuing someone at the PG to get a post-launch interview...

    I am really having a hard time visualizing a success for this...

  5. The Post-Gazette has at least 400,000 print subscribers, so it just needs 2.5 percent of them to sign up to equal your hypothetical scenario with very little overhead costs. Plus, think about all the out-of-towners who don't subscribe to the P-G and want these extras. I think this has the chance to be very lucrative, because online ads are a joke. Look at the P-G's Web site and you will see very few online advertisements. As for the monthly memberships, Scott, they will cost about $12 more a year.

    Sadly, I suggested to the O-R earlier this year that they offer some free content and some paid content. If you mix it up, you can still get web hits while also sucking some people into the membership content. But they laughed at my suggestion. With the P-G going to this format, who is laughing now?

  6. I hear that they have hired several people as "two-year associates" with the title of "blogger." Unfortunately, I have also heard you have to know someone high up on the food chain to even get a call back.

  7. Please elaborate... The masses want to know before we drop 36 bones.

  8. Be careful assuming that a piece of the pie is easily attainable...

    Converting 2.5% of your print subscribers into paid online audience is not automatic...

    I'd bet that if you polled a random sample of those 400,000 subscribers, only a single digit percentage of them would even be aware of this "Feature." In that case, you might be looking at having to convert 50% of those who are aware into paid subscribers.

    And yes! Please elaborate! Bajillions of bloggers want to know how to get on a 2 year gravy train in the Burgh! :-)

  9. Actually, I heard this from three different sources. I sent my resume to them despite not seeing any want ads on any of the job sites. And I heard nothing back, of course. Then I met with a longtime staffer and he said he was asked for a letter of reference from a young woman who heard about a blogging position there. Another friend who works there says she doesn't understand how the management keeps saying there is a "hiring freeze" when she sees a veritable revolving door of young two-year associates. Another vet told a friend the reason why the paper's butt got kicked on the LA Fitness story is because they had a bunch of green reporters. These two-year associates make some decent money (about as much as I was making at the OR) and often have master's degrees and little to no experience in the field. I never got a call back from the editor I sent my resume to...but then, I just have experience and not an advanced degree from Columbia and I am not friends with one of the executive editors, either. I don't know any of them personally, but I have heard it from enough reputable sources to know it has to have some basis in truth.

  10. I'm hearing that all of the content on the current Web site will remain free. Apparently, they are adding more stuff that will cost money. Hopefully they offer a trial period for people to see, because I doubt anyone will make the leap without knowing what exactly they're paying for.

  11. Good morneen sunshines! Ready for a rip-roaring day of getting all up in the PG's grill?

  12. Either no one is manning the 877 number they provide on the website... or a gazillion people are calling in...

    They keep referring me to the FAQ on the website (via recorded message)... I don't think you can read the faq unless you are already a member though...

    I'm going to get a one month membership to take it for a spin... but I do want to test the poor schmuck tasked with answering the phones :-)

  13. 167 members as of 9am... including yours truly

  14. You're hooked already. The beast is becoming self-aware!

  15. I'm trying to get hooked, mike... but it's rough...

    Are you a member yet?

    Site works again... I guess they hired hookers to advertise downtown.

  16. Ah, language...

    And I probably won't join because the PBC and Eers blogs are still free. The same can't be said for Pitt and Penn State... suckers.

  17. Language?

    Hookers? I'm sorry...

    I will email you my user name and password if you want to try it out...

  18. I've had other things to do today, so I'll probably check it out tomorrow and give you an update. What do you think of it so far?

  19. Meh...

    I made a few comments and... well... after a few hours, they remain the only comments.

    Navigation is blah.

    I haven't read anything that was like Whiz-Bang-Super-Justice-League awesome yet...

    I don't know yet... It's like it's trying to be a number of things... and that's where the criticism comes in.

    It's trying to be Huffington Post... but Huffington Post gets Krugman and Maher and Zogby as contributors... PG+ has, what? Jack Kelley and Gene Collier? AND it costs money?

    It's trying to be facebook... but I can't really figure out how the social networking works on PG+... and it doesn't have mafia wars... AND it costs money?

    It's trying to be Twitter... but twitter sucks unless you are following Rainn Wilson and The Bloggess and John McCain... AND it costs money?

    If it were free, I'd say that it is a promising attempt at emulating the best of the web... because it actually costs something, it's really easy to see where it falls short.

    I have offered constructive criticism and asked generalized consumer-oriented questions in their live feed thing... but I remain open to be wowed by the awesome.

    I am a bright and shining light of magical amazing... if I can't generate a flurry of activity and controversy and rally a team of anonymous partisan interwebbers... well, I don't know what can :-)

    I'm going to start a Scott Beveridge fan club on there tomorrow... just to see how it goes :-)

  20. It is a newspaper revolution. Change is going to take time.

  21. It won't be much of a revolution if nobody participates...

  22. Oh, and I hate to belabor this, I really do. But Mike Jones' blog is hardly the appropriate place to share your dislike for Scott Beveridge.

    I respect the guy as a journalist and friend and don't appreciate the ribbing. With all respect, do it on your own blog on your own time, bro.

    Keep it professional!

  23. Why do you read my comments as DISlike of Scott Beveridge?

    I have CONSISTENTLY said that I enjoy Scott's writing... Every time I bring up his name, I mention that I enjoy Scott's writing... Which is why I find it to be an UBER mystery why Scott apparently has some sort of aversion to me.

    I respect him as a story teller, a writer, and a preserver of all things Mon-valley-related...

    So please, illuminate this for me.

  24. Convenient is the world where you can make random accusations or assumptions and then shy away from validating them with any sort of supporting evidence...

    My email address is

    Feel free to use that to illuminate this issue while not straying from the topic on The Bread Line.

  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  26. For trying to push this new "Plus" system, you'd think they'd want more than 1 square inch of the 3 front page web ads dedicated to it to be clickable.

  27. And of course now every PG+ link on their site is active. Sorry to doubt you, my sentient PG overlords.

  28. You know you won't be able to resist subscribing to PG+ to read the Steelers blog, Mr. Muerte. Now that Sportsbeat is off the air, what will be your source for all things Yinzer?