Sunday, November 1, 2009

PG+ becomes a negative

This blog had a lively discussion several months ago about what it meant for the Post-Gazette to implement a paid members feature on its Web site. At first, I applauded the decision not to give away information for free. People should have to pay to read the content that the newspaper provides. But the more I look at the diminishing size and quality of the print edition, I'm beginning to think that PG+ is actually hindering the product.

I began noticing something was amiss in September by the pathetic Steelers coverage. Beat reporter Ed Bouchette does a great job, but his notebooks and other information that usually appeared in print suddenly disappeared. The P-G is hyping a Steelers blog and other coverage as the biggset reason to pay for the Web membership. However, I don't understand why the P-G is now punishing the people who pay for the newspaper to be delivered each day.

The Post-Gazette should put ALL of its Steelers information in the print edition, and limit the amount of available on the Internet. I plan on calling sports editor Jerry Micco and executive editor David Shribman to complain about why print subscribers are getting the shaft. It would make sense to offer the PG+ feature for free to regular subscribers. If their response is underwhelming, then I will cancel my $85 print subscription (circulation numbers are the bread and butter for advertising revenue) and sign up for the $36 PG+ plan. It makes economic sense for me, but I doubt the same can be said for the Post-Gazette.


  1. I rarely even buy the Sunday P-G anymore because it's such a shell of its former self. The Sunday P-G sports section used to be something I looked forward to spending a good 45 minutes on, but now there's really not much in it. And since they won't even provide daily delivery out where I live, it's not really on my radar anymore. When the Pittsburgh Press went under, the P-G was a viable alternative. Those days are gone, but it's not like they're the only paper that has cut back and tried to reconfigure its business model, as we well know.

  2. I signed up for a month on PG+ and played around for a few days. I enjoy watching sports, but I can go weeks at a time without reading sports-related journalism. I've also noticed that sports-writing is something that is super abundant on the innerwebs, not unlike graphic images and clever tech-nerd references... I don't know if the PG's sports writers are so supremely awesome that the sports coverage alone is a reason to pay 4 bucks a month to access... but the rest of the content was not.

    Anyway, Paypal treated my one month purchase a subscription, so it automatically payed for a second month, against my wishes. I think I visited once in October. I went to PG+ again last night after reading your blog post, and I see that I am still able to login... I guess I should check Paypal; I am pretty sure that I cancelled... anyway, the little live feed widget on the right says that the last update was 2 and a half days ago, so I am thinking that the "community" is not really all that frothy. You can sort members by "new" and "most popular" and by a third filter that I can't remember... I am still one of the "most popular"... Which I assume is based on the number of profile views, since I have 3 "friends" in my PG+ network, and I don't consider that a milestone of popularity. Anyway, all those profile views were generated in my first week as a member... and like I said, I haven't been on there for over a month now. I dunno, maybe it's considered a success... maybe it will still be successful... but I didn't find anything (literally, anything) on there that was "special."

    The social networking wasn't nearly as good as facebook. The community generated content wasn't nearly as good as reddit. The blogs weren't nearly as good as huffpost.

    Maybe the sports writing was awesome... :-)

  3. I still stand by my assertion that the P-G should charge money for either the entire Web product or nothing at all. There still is way too much free content available, so why would anyone buy PG+?

  4. I agree with that... it at least answers the question of "what am I paying for?"

    With PG+, the answer isn't clear... what do I get from PG+ that I can't get EVERYWHERE else on the internet?

    If all of the PG online is subscription based, then the answer is simple... When I pay my subscription, I get the post gazette.

    I don't have to compare it to see if it's worth it or not... it just is.

  5. Trying to sell information via the internet is a lost cost; it is liquid information. Its like bottles of water right next to a fresh water spring with a sign that says, "free." The odds are heavily stacked against you.

  6. But do you want to be drinking that water 24/7 when acid mine drainage is dripping a couple hundred yards up stream?

  7. It is more obvious every week that the world of communications has changed, and continues to change at an even faster pace. With so many web sites available, so many places to post, social networking sites, etc. the words are being exchanged quickly.

    But, with increasing quantity of words, quality of content is rapidly degenerating. Internet and the associated web sites have permitted everybody to be on a level playing fields with regard to writing. But, as enticing as this sounds, it is the detriment of communication. What everybody writes tends to take on the same level of importance, the same level of depth. The good, profound material is lost in all the haze of garbage. Suddenly, most think because they have a keyboard and an Internet connection, they have become a great writer, a profound thinker, and a great source of truth.

    Our communication world is quickly becoming "an inch deep and a mile wide." Gone are the days when the good writers and the good material is obvious ("inch wide, and a mile deep"). The good has been mixed with so much bad, it gets lost. The blogs, reader response sections, forums, and similar places have become havens for the wanna-be crowd. Too many are eager to have their thoughts put down in digital form, than to listen and read those who really have something important to say.

    How much of Twitter is important? How much of FaceBook postings are important? Most is garbage, just plan garbage. Likewise with the news forums. To be sure, some blogs are good, informative, and thought provoking. But, most are just ramblings of idle thoughts, ones that were best left rolling around in somebody's head. The posters would be better off to find a good book to read, and take their fingers off the keyboard.

    It is not a surprise that PG+ is flailing. It is just one-of-many of the same stuff (undoubtedly -- I have never tapped in). The overload of junk just tends to diminish the entire world of written communication, where everybody considers themselves equally valid and important.

    P.S. Most likely, this post fits into the same category of which I speak. Sorry for the "leveling."

  8. Well said, Roger. Your comment explains my feelings exactly. Everyone has something to say, but no one is listening.

  9. I used to listen but eventually I got tired of what I was hearing. Now I'm just a ball of rage. Its a vicious cycle. The more people stop listening, the more it pisses everyone else off and there's no incentive to start listening again.

  10. While it is true that everyone now has an equal opportunity to be a "maker" of information, there is also an auxiliary dynamic in how that information gets distributed. Just because you write it, doesn't mean people will read it. However, if you write something good, it doesn't matter if your name is Friedman or Felman... the internet will reward you for content that is of interest to other people. A profound piece of writing will quickly go viral and more people will be exposed to the ideas presented in that piece than if it were limited to the pages of a newspaper in Worshintin' PA. Social networks and user-rated websites are where all of the "next best things" come from. There is a reason that Jenny Lawson, The Rude Pundit, and Digby have hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of loyal readers and emoboy87's blog about how mean his parents are gets no love... the good, entertaining, informative, and relevant content froths to the top.

    The internet is very democratic in that way.