With crisis of Hurricane Sandy subsiding in York, it’s back to normal at ydr.com

As Hurricane Sandy made its turn toward the Northeast, editors at the York Daily Record/Sunday News wanted to ensure that everyone would have unfettered access to the information we would produce on this dangerous event.

Normally, we require readers to subscribe to our online services in order to get unlimited access. But at a time when people might frantically search for news of loved ones, for public safety announcements or for the all-clear, we did not want anyone to be slowed by this so-called pay wall.

That’s why we ensured that all of our storm coverage would be available at no cost throughout the crisis.

Now that the crisis has passed, we will resume normal operations. Storm coverage posted from this point forward will once again require a subscription. All coverage posted before then will remain free. You can see the complete body our our work on Hurricane Sandy at ydr.com/alerts

Managing this online subscription plan is something new to us and we want to be flexible as we find our way with it. Traditionally, newspapers charged for each day’s paper, even if there was a crisis. I am sure some paper in Honolulu published after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and I am sure they charged the same as always for that important news. In fact, they likely ran many extra copies off the press and sold extras.

But a newspaper could not immediately alert everyone on the planet that the island was under attack. Today we can do that, and we have to consider how to adapt our business model to such new realities.

We provide lots of information for free on other platforms. We use Facebook, Twitter, email and text alerts, iPad and mobile apps and we do not charge for content offered there.

I would like to know your thoughts on this matter. How can we best serve this community with immediate, credible, high-quality content? We must thrive as a business if we are to dedicate a staff of 70 journalists to such coverage. Is it appropriate to ask people to pay 99 cents to read four weeks’ worth of crisis coverage? (That is our introductory offer for an online subscription.)

What do you think?

About Randy Parker

Managing Editor, York Daily Record/Sunday News and ydr.com
This entry was posted in Behind the scenes, Business, Digital first, News coverage, Newsroom conversations, Policies, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to With crisis of Hurricane Sandy subsiding in York, it’s back to normal at ydr.com

  1. jim says:

    I think charging extra for the on line service to paid subscribers is unfair. I subscribe to get the paper for my 94 year old mom while I’m on the computer. Charging me another $12 is ludicrous. No other local news in other areas charge for this. I’d rather you up the fee for the hardcopy and allow free use on line.

  2. Randy Parker says:

    Thanks for the response Jim. If you are up for it, I’d like to explore some of these ideas with you. Your response is similar to that of other readers we’ve heard from since we launched online subscriptions.
    You said you’d rather we increase the cost of the hardcopy, or what we call the print edition. That is, essentially, what we have been doing since the dawn of the internet. But more and more people get their news online only, leaving a smaller and smaller pool of print readers left to subsidize the cost of producing news online.
    Our online efforts are much more than a reproduction of print efforts. We now have staff working around the clock, constantly updating the web with the latest news. We need people with expertise in producing online-only graphics, interactives and databases. We now shoot and edit video, something the hardcopy never demanded.
    We must adjust our business model because the print audience will continue to shrink no matter what we do. What do you recommend?

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