Kudos to Sacramento Bee publisher Cheryl Dell for being honest with her staff in a memo about the paper’s new paywall: “At the risk of stating the obvious, we also haven’t developed a communication plan. (That is why you are getting this note after a news story has been reported.)”
DATE: May 23, 2012
TO: All Employees
FROM: Cheryl Dell
RE: Sac Bee Story & Charging for Content
Earlier today, we posted a story on our website about The Bee’s move to begin charging some online readers for access to sacbee.com. Ideally, you would have heard this news internally before reading about it on the pages of our website.
That said, we are excited to be testing a model that involves paid access to news content online. Print subscribers have been paying for content for decades and I’m sure we all agree that our content has value. The challenge is finding the model that best serves our market. As you may know, there are many other papers that limit free content on their websites – The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Modesto Bee and the Stockton Record are just a few of the dozens that come to mind – and there are a variety of ways that they handle paid access.
Here at The Bee, we are just beginning to determine which of the many models makes sense for our market. We haven’t made any decisions on pricing; we haven’t made any decisions about what content will be available at which access level and at the risk of stating the obvious, we also haven’t developed a communication plan. (That is why you are getting this note after a news story has been reported.)
In fact, we have just appointed a team to focus on specifics and make recommendations and will keep you posted as we move forward with this project.
As always, thanks for all you are doing to help The Bee succeed. These certainly are exciting times.