Friday, February 02, 2007

Uh, Rochester, check your Web site

In a story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal (via Media Info Center), newspaper circulation managers say newspapers' downfall is exaggerated and that there are lots of examples of papers growing circulation. Work hard at it, they say. Pay attention to customer service and give customers what they don't expect.


Except, in the middle of the story is this from Bill Lisser, circulation director of the Post-Bulletin in Rochester, Minn., an area that has lots of "snowbirds" who flee for southern climes during winter days like today when it got to a balmy 4 degrees:

The Post-Bulletin also shut down free Internet access to its daily stories.

"Once we offered free (access online), we saw an immediate rise in stops (canceled subscriptions) and a drop in paid home delivery," Lisser said. "Our numbers went from plus 1 percent (annual growth) to the negatives. So we shut the site down, and we were able to grow circulation again."

Today, the Post-Bulletin allows only paid access to all its stories online.

Really? I was able to click and go fine to anything on the site. Has Lisser checked his Web site recently, or did someone forget to lock the barn after the horse escaped? Chances are, this paper has discovered as have many others that the subscription wall is just an invitation to go elsewhere, perhaps the local TV station.

About all it appears you have to be subscribed for is to comment on stories.

Don't know whether the reporter got it wrong or Lisser had a brain freeze -- after all, it is supposed to go to -8 tonight, both Web sites helpfully tell me. No thanks.

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