We often get snarky comments on Facebook from followers who complain they have been unable to read a story because they hit our pay wall.
Since that only happens after someone has already read five articles for free that month, it tells us two things.
One is that they must secretly like to read about local news happenings or otherwise they wouldn’t complain or wouldn’t follow up on Facebook.
Second, it implies they have other priorities than paying $8 a month for unlimited access to every news story, photo gallery, submitted briefs from nonprofits, government agencies and businesses, arts/entertainment news, calendar listings of all that’s happening in the county, special sections and online exclusives that range from business stories to special advertising.
Considering we cover only Haywood County news where an estimated 65,000 people live, and that we receive almost 1 million page views a month on our website, it tells us there is plenty of appetite for local news.
The problem is: It costs us money to generate and compile all the Haywood news we can get our hands on in a single place. The price to receive all that is less than an inexpensive lunch at a restaurant or a bit more than a fancy cup of coffee or a craft beer.
I got an interesting call from an individual who has been in the county for four years now and was wondering how they could read the online news stories about candidates running for the local board of education without paying for them.
I told him we also did candidate forums, as well, that would be watched online and suggested it would be $8 well spent.
He resisted, saying he subscribed to two national publications already. I pressed the point that since he was now vested in a new community and obviously took citizenship seriously since he was bothering to investigate the positions of school board candidates, he really ought to subscribe to his community newspaper.
He rejected the offer and wondered it there was any way I could just allow him to bypass the paywall for these particular stories. I then suggested he pick up the most recent weekend edition, the Wednesday paper and then the paper coming out this weekend, where there would be extensive information on all 12 of the school board candidates.
He thanked me for my time and tried to hang up, but I wasn’t ready to give up.
I again congratulated him on choosing such a special community and sang the praises of all he could learn by reading The Mountaineer. He thanked me and tried to sign off again.
I felt like a telemarketer (though in this case, he called ME) as I again guaranteed him that he was sure to find $1 worth of value in every edition he purchased, and much, much more than that value 24/7 online.
His mind was made up, and after about 10 minutes or so, I think he felt relieved to say good-bye, and was perhaps regretting ever asking about how to get local news for free.