We used to pull a plow in our fields with horses, now we have GPS guiding our building-size tractors (which, by the way would make killer Transformers). And we used to get off the couch to turn the channel, now we break out in a cold sweat when we can't find the clicker. Times change.
This week, the Independent entered unchartered waters when we went All Access. Yep, the paywall is here. And you knew it was coming. It didn't take long for me to get accosted by the general public after its launch Wednesday: "Why the hell are you charging us to read your paper online!? Someone's making money."
Good one. If someone's making money, it's not me.
Cue my little story that started this column (in case you're wondering, it didn't do much good). Things cost.
Understatement of the year: The newspaper business is changing. I'll be frank, I don't really like where it's headed. I'm not a fan of technology, even though I rely on it all the time. I sometimes think I was born in the wrong era. As far as being in the newspaper business goes, give me the '70s or '80s. Sure, we use technology to make our jobs a bit easier, but I miss the things that made newspapers newspapers. I miss the sound of a roaring press. I miss carving out columns of text with Exacto knives and gluing them in place to create a page. I miss putting special sections together that way until 2 in the morning, then crashing at home a few hours later. I even miss the old cumbersome Video Digital Terminals we used to use and the machine that spit out hard copies of AP photos.
The equipment we use at the paper has morphed, big time. Today, it's fast, it's smart, it's sleek and it's sexy.
So, here we are, charging non-subscribers to see our paper in full after a decade of giving it away for free. I know you all are probably thinking how wrong this is, but in reality, this really shouldn't surprise anyone. Subscribers pay to get the paper delivered to their home; seeing it online has always been kind of a benefit for them. Non-subscribers have been playing with house money for years. That can only last so long, agree?
But, and this isn't a cheap plug, an online subscription is well worth the coin. You can read stories online the "old-fashioned" way as you've been doing for the last 10 years, or you can now "flip" through the pages on your computer or in mobile fashion with whatever other gadgets you own. The headlines are hyperlinked, so you can single out stories from a certain page.
I'm not a techie (I just downloaded - or is it uploaded? - my first photo on the Facebook on Tuesday) and I don't get giddy about computers and apps and all that, but I have to say, when I went through everything online Wednesday, the day we launched All Access, it was pretty cool. That's saying a lot coming from a man who misses the stench of film developer wafting from the darkroom. I miss that darkroom, too.
Not everything will be behind the new paywall. Obituaries, for example, will still be able to be viewed like they always have been. That should answer one of your questions, and no doubt you have more. I suggest going to Marshallindependent.com/AllAccess for all the other questions you might have. It's a pretty good link that should take care of your issues.
If not, call us, we're here. We haven't been replaced by talking robots. Times haven't changed that much.