Spanning the State: The end

Carla Axtman

I have really loved writing Spanning the State both when I first started it at Loaded Orygun and then here at Blue O. It was a great way for me to surf the state's newspapers to mine the great little nuggets that make our state an amazing place. I've really tried to keep the column geared to local newspapers for a couple of reasons: to highlight the work of local reporters and to drive traffic to the websites of those papers. I've felt it was important to give readers a sense of what was happening all over the state, too.

Unfortunately, many local papers around the state have made the decision to place their content behind a firewall. I can usually contact the papers and they'll send me links to individual stories--but they don't generally have staff available on the weekends, which is when I have the time to actually put this piece together. These subscription only firewalls just make it too difficult to provide the kind of content required for Spanning the State.

I will continue to try and provide coverage of happenings around Oregon. As local newspaper websites have now made it very difficult to find and tell some of these local stories, I encourage readers to please use the "contact" link at the top to let me know about stories going on near you.

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    Carla, could you tell us which local papers have made the move to pay walls?

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      The Bend Bulletin and East Oregonian have been behind a firewall a long time. In the last year or so, all the papers in the Bulletin goup have gone behind the firewall: Baker City Herald, Curry Coastal Pilot and LaGrande Observer.

      I used to be able to get around the Blue Mountain Eagle (John Day) firewall, but apparently no longer. The last straw for me was trying to access this week's archives of The Daily Astorian only to find them behind a firewall as well.

      A lot of the other rural newspapers don't update their online content regularly: Hermiston Herald and the newspaper in Burns, for example. So it's pretty hit and miss to find current stories there.

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    Personally, I don't see any issue with pay walls. Somehow, the newspapers (and magazines) need to pay their employees, and advertising alone won't always do it.

    I pay for a few newspaper subscriptions, and with them can get past the paywall. Additionally, several provide deep archive access too.

    Of course, I realize that not everyone can afford to pay. There are library resources that can help with that, and if you know your way with the search engines, many do a good job bringing interesting stories to one's attention.

    Then again, there are some not worth paying for. I challenge anyone to actually find some of the stories that appear in the Oregonian, yet cannot be found using their search engine.

    Carla, I enjoy your "Spanning the State" writings, though I don't necessarily always agree with your observation or conclusions.

    For the papers behind the pay walls, what kind of money are you looking at for subscriptions that will give you access?

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      Mike: The problem isn't so much that I'd have to personally pay for subscriptions to all the papers. It's likely I could negotiate something with the Blue Oregon editors to get the access.

      The problem is that all the readers need to be able to get behind the firewalls as well. If I link to a story that interests you and you don't have a subscription, you won't be able to read it in context.

      I could certainly do this...but it would diminish the experience for the readers, IMO.

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        That makes sense. Yes, you can provide snippets, but it can frustrate some users who won't have access. That is why I mentioned the libraries.

        I seem to recall here in Washington County, once you have a library card, you have access thru their portal to many resources that are behind paywalls. Not only access from within the library, but at your home computer as well. I've used that in the past. Also, Beaverton School District also has resources for some restricted content.

        Yes, that means that the casual reader will have a few more hoops to jump through, and may have to take a trip to the library.

        In the end, I hope all of you support your libraries! There are a few related bond measures this November worth voting for. They are an essential resource for all of us.

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    This is probably the wave of the future. The New York Times has said they anticipate a time not far off when they won't have a print paper at all. This means the only thing they have to sell is an online subscription.

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    Bill, you may be right. But an annual or monthly online subscription is not the way to go.

    I'd probably pay for an online sub to the NYT or WaPo, but I wouldn't pay for one for the Blue Mountain Eagle or the Daily Astorian, or even OregonLive.

    But I enjoy the Astorian's editorials quite a bit - and would happily pay 5-10 cents to read one Carla found and linked to. And I very much appreciate the blog by Jeff Mapes at the O.

    The future is not annual subscriptions. The future is instant, easy, pay-per-read systems. Whether it's Google or Facebook or somebody else, sooner or later, someone's going to figure out how to accept a $20/month payment that runs like a taxi meter while I surf around the internet, dropping pennies and nickels here and there. Everywhere you'd go, you'd get a headline and a paragraph or two - and a "Read more for two cents" link.

    Make a system that creates near-zero friction for the consumer and they'll happily breeze through the turnstiles.

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      Perhaps, something like i-tunes. A world without touch newspapers delivered to the door is hard to fathom for someone in their 60s or older. But it may be both/and monthly subscription and "easy entry." Newspapers are searching for a new business model and haven't quite found it yet. Right now we are a nation where serious journalism is fast disappearing, and that is not what we need.

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    Thanks for all your work on Spanning the State, Carla. It was valuable and interesting, and will be missed.

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    Sorry to see StS go, limericked or otherwise. Too bad some news outlets are killing their own operations by placing information that yearns to be free, behind paywalls. As if much of it is actually worth paying for!

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    Shucks. Sort of a sign of the times with media and news in general. And I don't like it.

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    The Medford Mail Tribune is going behind a firewall. Subscibers to the hardcopy get to go behind the wall at no additional cost.

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