Courier-Post Thinks This is Worth Paying for?

Days-old content across the top of the newspaper's website—just weeks after installing a paywall—is an embarrassment.

Have you taken a look at the Courier-Post website since they quietly installed a paywall to charge users for content in November? 

When other Gannett sites installed their paywalls, they trumpeted the new cost—which is shared by print users whether or not they ever go online—as a means to expand generation of local content you can't find anywhere else.

So let's take a look at how Courier leadershipManaging Editor Leon Tucker and interim publisher Ellen Leifeld—have marshaled their forces to deliver content to you, the paying user:

—The main story as of 10 a.m. Jan. 2 is a look ahead to 2013 dated Jan. 1. Even better, the text a user can read from the homepage notes that it was written on Dec. 19. How's that for timely local content?

—Of the remaining nine items visible "above the fold":

  • two were posted about midnight (meaning the items were probably in the print edition and have not been updated in any way for use online);
  • two additional items are dated Jan. 1;
  • three items have no date whatsoever;
  • two are updates within the last hour -- both written by the same C-P reporter (one of those is South Jersey officials' responses to the "fiscal cliff" deal, the other is a follow-up on a fatal accident in Gloucester County).

—Of the ten total items, there is:

  • an Eagles story written by the Associated Press (available for free elsewhere);
  • a "fiscal cliff" story written by the AP;
  • a Hurricane Sandy aid story out of Washington, D.C., written by someone in the falsely named "Courier-Post Washington Bureau" (the writer's Twitter feed identifies her as a "D.C. reporter for Gannett papers in New Jersey & Mont.");
  • three more AP stories that do not say who they were written by (in violation of Gannett's contract with the AP as well as Gannett's policies and general ethical guidelines);
  • and one more AP story that does say it was written by the AP.

—Scroll down a little further and you'll find the "News" and "Spotlight" sections. News includes four items - one from 12:25 a.m. and three from Jan. 1, while Spotlight includes six items dating from Dec. 28 through 31 (including one not-so-timely item on counting down to the New Year with kids).

Remember when the site used to have updates throughout the day every day? I do; I used to run the site (I resigned in August 2011 for a new and more stable position elsewhere in publishing).

I'm sure some readers are tired of me "bashing" the Courier (and its parent company, Gannett), but I think South Jersey deserves something better than what Leon Tucker (ltucker@gannett.com) and Ellen Leifeld (eleifeld@gannett.com) are delivering. 

So far, they have made absolutely no effort to respond to my requests for information about the paywall. They also have refused to create any space on their site for discussion of the paywall. And despite my mid-December e-mail noting an error in one of their stories, they still describe MLB All-Star pitcher Andrew Bailey as a Haddonfield native instead of a Haddon Heights native in at least one prominent place on their site.

South Jersey just deserves better.

(Note: Since I started writing this blog post, the site has been updated -- and for some reason a Dec. 28 item is now even higher up on the homepage. Confusing.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Medero's Blog January 08, 2013 at 11:35 AM
Most newspapers seemed to be set this way now a days. Most of their stories coming from the AP and local stories covered by a small staff of beat reporters.
Sean Andrew January 08, 2013 at 10:59 PM
While I do not disagree the CP Online is sad, this "story" screams of bitterness. If the writer wants to make it better, go back and improve it. If the public is not satisfied, stop subscribing, They will either improve or fold. What's the future of Patch? AOL and Artie Minson won't keep losing millions for long...
William January 09, 2013 at 02:14 AM
I think the point of the article harkens back to something rare in journalism, a concern for the consumer. Certainly we might suggest an article by a competitor might serve another purpose as well, but it doesn't mean the article is not valid. Thanks for the heads up, so far the only paywall sites I've found worthwhile have been the New York Times and a few magazines.
Longtime Colls Resident January 10, 2013 at 01:10 AM
I agree - they also raised the price of the print edition. The news is stale when that arrives on my doorstep early in the morning. The version for ipad does not have obituaries which I made them aware of in November. They said it was an error but it has still not be corrected. I thought when I was paying for the privilege of reading the news online it would be a full access edition that you can access during a snowstorm or other emergency. It appears to be exactly the same as when it was free.


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