Leaf Chronicle Charges Ahead With Paid Online Content

Gannett Co. Inc., owner of Clarksville’s own Leaf Chronicle, has announced plans to roll out new subscription models for their online content.

The Leaf Chronicle is going to charge people to read stories on their website. Wow.


Welp. Time to give up.

But seriously, the dying print newspapers of the world are pushing the public to pay them to read their 1’s and 0’s on the interwebs. It seems inevitable when you first look at it. But when you dig deeper, this all amounts to desperate times leading to desperate (and illogical) actions.

Social Media Is Taking Over

You do have to deal with stuff like this...

Once we dig through Facebook posts bitching about The Bachelor and double coupons, we find about half of what we talk about comes from social media. This is a fairly new development, and it’s one that traditional news has yet to truly embrace. I have learned more about Publix opening from Facebook than from the Leaf Chronicle. I find out that a (mediocre) business is closing on Twitter DAYS before any news site knows.

Of course you’ll have hoaxes and just plain misinformed tweets and posts, but that’s where a “professional” news site can filter the BS from the truth. They can make the calls or ask the bosses if they really want to be sure. But a reporter can’t be everywhere, and the LC still seems to get their news by sending people out to take pictures and talk to a business representative for an hour. It’s inefficient in these changing times.

Your Hundreds of Ads Can’t Pay For Your Website?

Top Story? SAVINGS!!!

OK, they want to charge you to read their website. Does that mean you won’t have to navigate through a sea of invasive banners that pop-up, drop down, and drill into your eyeballs?

Advertising is where most online sites make their money. Using that logic, the Leaf Chronicle should be swimming in Scrooge McDuck money bin numbers. They have as many ads as porn sites (yet none of them are as “entertaining”). Yet here they are, ready to ask for more money on top of a page-filling ad for Furniture Connection.

So here’s the conundrum you run into…there will still be a “free” Leaf Chronicle, featuring some of the stories but not all. Paying members get all stories. If non-paying readers get less access to stories, they will view fewer pages, and in turn view fewer ads. Less ad views equals less money from advertisers.
On the other hand, if paying members (AKA the suckers) don’t have to view ads, that’s also less ad views and revenue from advertisers. But if the suckers do get the same amount of annoying ads, they’ll feel ripped off for paying.

Advertising is an important part of many sites’ survival. Hell, I’d totally update this site more than 2-4 times a week if I made any real money from ads. But the money I make now is about enough to buy a bag of Fun Size Snickers every other month.

On the other hand the Leaf Chronicle looks like they’re trying to get money on both ends. They may alienate advertisers and customers in the process.

Why Pay?

The issue of paying for online news has been around for awhile. The New York Post and the Wall Street Journal both have tried this method before with varying results. But I have one question for Gannett/LC… What incentive are you giving paying customers?

The way the story reads, you’ll be paying for the same average product you presently get for free. Go to their page right now and ask yourself if you would hand over your bucks to read it. I have a feeling that most people in Clarksville would say “no.” On top of that, people are stingy and greedy, and they want to know what they’re getting for their dollar. What new amazing feature will the Leaf Chronicle add to ensure it’s totally worth their money?

At-home paper delivery? No…I’m on my computer trying to read the news for a reason–I don’t want a stack of paper that I’ll just throw away 10 minutes later. It’s like trying to sell an MP3 to an iPhone owner by forcing them to take a CD-single with it (for an additional charge).

It’s going to be difficult to convince people to pay for news. Especially when there are so many other options…

ClarksvilleOnline.com and ClarksvilleNow.com have been boosting their online presence over the last couple of years, and are poised to benefit from LC’s change in policy. Their news has gradually improved, and some might argue that they are superior. As long as free sites are doing the news and are offering a product of comparable quality, you’re going to struggle to get paid subscribers. I’d argue that NewsChannel5 out of Nashville has just as many interesting stories about Clarksville some weeks.

…and of course ClarksvilleWTF.com, the most important site on the Internet, has been and will be free to read forever. I can’t imagine charging people to look at mugshots, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to pay me for it.

Oh…one other thing that made me guffaw from the article…

“Certain online classified products such as Cars.com and CareerBuilder.com will remain accessible to all consumers.”

No shit. You mean to tell me that websites I can easily access without the Leaf Chronicle’s help will still be accessible to everyone? THANKS! Of course they’ll still be available, as they require no work by the LC, and I’m sure LC gets paid for reppin’ them on their site. DUH.


  1. David

    Ever since they have moved most there operation to Nashville the paper has suffered. I get more and better news from ClarksvilleNOW and ClarksvilleOnline, heck even channel 4 facebook stuff than the lewd Kronical

  2. angie

    I can’t believe that mediocre paper is charging for a paper edition, let alone online content! Clarksvillenow.com seems like a great alternative. Good ole LC is always a day late and a dollar short anyway. No big loss! Of course the best thing on the interweb since dial- up will always be: ” Clarksvillewtf.com”

  3. Anon

    I’ll start off by commending ClarksvilleWTF for providing the bored minds of Clarksville with amusement at the down-right ridiculous cost of $0 a month.

    Beyond that I would like to address the question of, “What do you get for your money?”

    Well, for one, you get content over multiple devices. If the story didn’t mention it, the LC will soon have an iPhone/iPad/Nook/Kindle/Android app and their news will be integrated into the USA Today app. So, unlike the New York TImes, one subscription pays for your newspaper (which a lot of people still get each day), your online access (that most people are using at work), and all of your mobile devices (for people on the go or who prefer reading on those devices during leisure time).

    So, yeah, you won’t be able to get all your news for free anymore. I know that is kind of a bummer. However, you will still be able to get highly reputable news from a trusted source. Say what you want about the Leaf Chronicle, but most of the time I see their stories are pretty factual and they include verified sources…that is…when they aren’t talking about The Bachelor.

    As far as paying to read the site and still getting the ads…well…I would say that there are a lot of people who check out those ads and respond to them, so it isn’t like they are all invaluable. Some ads are for upcoming charity events and stuff like that so people should be able to get their message out there on a site that people come to for Clarksville news, information, and advertising.

    I’m not suggesting that this is the best idea, however, I would hate to see a city our size go without a local newspaper and if people aren’t willing to pay for the hard work put in by reporters (at least some of them) who do watch dog investigating and in depth features then that is just unfortunate. And I think people would be more inclined to pay for the services provided by the Leaf Chronicle if they weren’t stuck in this negative feedback loop where people think it is dying because people said it was dying and people said it was dying because people thought it was dying.

    The newspaper is still a very solid, valuable part of this community. When manufacturing plants and other industries consider Clarksville they request the newspaper. That might not be the biggest factor for them but is a factor involved. It shows a healthy community where people are engaged (and a resource for the company’s future PR efforts).

    So I think perhaps this is going to be one of those, “wait and see” sort of things.

  4. trebor99

    If industry and manufacturering read our newspaper as part of their consideration process as Anon states below then Clarksville is doomed. Could this be why we lead the way in meth production?

    Its a horridly bad newspaper on its best day. I clicked on “News Update” just this morning and was sent to a page warning of high winds today. The article was published five days ago on Tuesday, February 21st, Today is Sunday, February 26th. There’s a reason this paper is referred to as the “Laugh Chronicle”.

    I have to hold my nose to buy a Sunday paper for my wife’s couponing. No way I’m forking up one cent to read it online.

  5. Deana

    I agree I only get the sunday paper… sad thing is the LC wanted to throw me a whole weeks worth the papers for the same price as JUST getting the Sunday paper… (hmmmm can we say dumb ass pricing right there?) I told them “nahhhh I’d just be polluting the ozone layer with all that burning of paper… I use to get it daily, until I realized no one proof read the content before they slapped it on the press for printing… Charging for reading the internet stories will definitely be the start of its slow death… The overwhelming ads should cover the cost of the internet site, but then again maybe its some conspiracy for the state to be able to have LC post important things like rezoning codes, etc that only those with pockets of money can read because they paid for it… Thats bullshit right there ppl…

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