In the lead up to the Christmas, the Miami Herald is asking that the spirit of giving extend to their pages and is requesting donations from readers. In what has been a financially troubling year for the paper the Herald has made some 200 job cuts, suffered steep losses in revenue and drops in circulation numbers.
Yesterday the McClatchy-owned newspaper began using its website to invite users to donate with a link at the bottom of each story directing them to "Support ongoing news coverage on Miamiherald.com." There, readers can donate however much they wish with a credit card and are guaranteed their money is going to a good cause.
"If you value the Miami Herald's local news reporting and investigations, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you," the donation page implores.
The Miami Herald is among the majority of newspapers who initially put their news online for free and are now struggling for ways to make the switch and generate profit from such news. The challenge to charge online is a particularly difficult as there is now a cultural attitude and expectation that online news should be free. Trying to backtrack on this is no easy task and many publications are researching their options thoroughly or waiting patiently to see how others tackle the issue before taking any final decisions.
Paywalls are something that have been given particular attention in recent weeks, with media mogul Rupert Mudoch continuing to argue they will resolve the industry's woes, and various organisations starting to believe him. Johnston Press, the second largest newspaper owner in Britain (measured by weekly circulation) began trialling paywalls on some of its websites last month, and Axel Springer, publisher of Europe's biggest daily, Das Bild, and other newspapers across Germany and Eastern Europe, announced it would also introduce paywalls on some of its content.
The Miami Herald has not yet taken the plunge and begun forcing its readers to pay for their stories, though perhaps by introducing the donation page the paper is paving the way. Raising reader awareness that the Herald is in a fragile financial state and does actually need funds to produce its online content could soften the eventual paywall blow for users.
"We're trying something new, we're putting it out there to see if it works, to see what the response is," said Elissa Vanaver, Vice President/Assistant to the Publisher at the Herald. Seeking donations might not be such a bad idea, after all Wikipedia, run by a non profit foundation, stages an annnual campaign requesting readers to donate for the free service. Given the drive raised $3 million in the span of ten days last year, then perhaps the Miami Herald is onto a good thing.
Source : NBC Miami,