COLUMN: Perry Bergson — June 23, 2014

Perry
Perry Bergson
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The Prince Albert Daily Herald, with its sign above the building shown through the trees from the City Hall square, will be around for many more years.

If you know me at all, you have a pretty good sense that I’m going to tell you the truth.

There are times that I wish I had a slightly better filter, but you will hear what I’m thinking.

So let’s start this week’s column with the elephant in the room; metered access on our website.

People have always paid for our print product and now we’re moving to that model online as well.

Is it a revenue source? Sure. Does it show that we value the work done by our excellent team of journalists? Of course it does.

You don’t walk into a hardware store and grab a hammer because you have a right to it.

Anyone who visits our website -- and hundreds of thousands of people have this year -- can read six stories per month. When you click on the seventh, a message will appear on your screen asking you to sign up for a small fee.

The web-only subscription will be offered at .99 cents for the first month, and will be renewed automatically at a rate of $12.90 per month.

That’s the princely sum of 43 cents per day.

If you’re a current subscriber, it won’t cost a penny.

We’re not exactly alone in going to metered access. A few of the newspapers that have instituted similar systems include the Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, the Toronto Star and Newsday.

At this point, there are 118 daily newspapers in Canada; a large percentage utilize some form of metered access.

We’ve received some criticism in Prince Albert over the decision, which was entirely expected. But we’ve also had our website’s numbers questioned in an entirely inaccurate way.

Google Analytics is one of the best sources of reporting data on the Internet. I have it up on my web browser every hour of every day. It tells me what people are looking at on our website and where their IP address originates. It doesn’t tell you the street or anything remotely that detailed. Instead it provides a community name.

When I checked as I wrote this, we had somebody from Gander, Nfld., and somebody from Miramichi, N.B., on one side of North America and Seattle, Wash., and Surrey, B.C., on the other. Most visitors were from Saskatchewan with some from Alberta as well.

There were also many other locations.

I tell you that because it gives you some insight into the level of detail I have about the people who visit our website. I’m sure that most websites have a similar program in place.

It’s real value to me is that it counts a number of things, such as page views, unique visitors, visits, pages read per visit and the time on the website.

I have the statistics that compare 2013 and 2014 web traffic on a screen in front of me. At the moment I’m writing this late Friday afternoon, paherald.sk.ca is above 2013 in sessions by 50 per cent, users by 74 per cent and page views by 51 per cent.

The other measured statistics are also rising.

Research at other papers that have instituted metered access suggests that any drop-off on the website will be very slight, if it all.

Two days into metered access, the numbers tell me that they were right.

Those statistics certainly suggest that the good people of Prince Albert have realized that the Daily Herald remains their best source of local information. It’s a reputation that’s been established over nearly 103 years of providing news, sports and opinion.

We don’t have any axes to grind in this community. Perhaps we should be a little louder and prouder about the work we do here but I think the journalism stands for itself.

Look, it costs money to do what we do. Not many businesses continue to operate if they give away the fruits of the labours of qualified professionals.

I know how hard I work and I see the dedication and resolve in the newsroom around me. This is a team working dligently to provide the information this city needs. We’ve spent 102 years in Prince Albert showing we belong.

 

Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at perry.bergson@paherald.sk.ca

 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Wall Street Journal, The Times Globe and Mail New York Times Toronto Star Daily Herald

Geographic location: London, Canada, Gander Miramichi North America Seattle, Wash. Surrey Saskatchewan Alberta

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  • Regis
    June 24, 2014 - 12:52

    $12.90 per month? Well I`m out! Also to let you know I don`t line up and spend money @ Tim Hortons. Don`t go on trips to Mexico. Don`t drive to Saskatoon for shopping. Don`t help fill the Casino parking lot. Don`t help fill up the bars or nightclubs. Alot of us do not have that money! I guess I will now get my news second hand from the rich that can afford to let it " trickle " down to me. Come to think of it ...who needs it anyways....should be called the Bad news, since that is what most of it is!