Spare some change?

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Lately I’ve been keeping an eye on Jim Romenesko’s media news blog/column; in fact, I’ve got an RSS link to it on my Google home page. RSS, Really Simple Syndication, is a method of automatically tracking changes on a Web site, so the user doesn’t have to constantly go back to look for changes. I just go back to my home page, and I can see the changes on the Web sites—New York Times, Washington Post, Salon, AP, BBC, RG-J—that I monitor.

Romenesko has been tracking an in-house tempest at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Star-Trib management has stopped giving free newspapers to employees. They have offered an online version of the paper and placed racks around for employees who want to buy a paper to hold in their hands. Employees have begun dropping a quarter in and setting the remaining papers on the box. Romenesko’s latest link is to a story, “Steal This Newspaper,” by David Carr at the New York Times. I found the story, particularly the conclusion, thought-provoking:

“If the people who make the paper believe that an electronic version of the product is just as good as the one readers pay for, why bother subscribing? This month, Jack Shafer, the media columnist for Slate, suggested that the new, improved Web site of The New York Times had persuaded him to stop paying $621.40 for an annual subscription.

It is one thing to beaver away, building out a digital gallows. Given reader habits and industry trends, that kind of innovation is required. But at some point—perhaps when reporters are denied access to newspapers—publishers are saying something else to their employees and their readers: What you’re holding has no value.”

It wasn’t that long ago that people were talking about reworking the business model of the new media. I wonder when dailies are going to realize that their readership and newsstand price are directly related.