New policy: Print subscribers to receive unlimited access to semissourian.com

Monday, January 16, 2012

When the Southeast Missourian launched a metered pay system for our website last summer, the major criticism was that print subscribers were asked to pay an additional $2.95 per month to maintain unlimited premium access. Although that rate was much less than the monthly $7.95 paid by those who didn't subscribe to the print newspaper, print subscribers still voiced their displeasure. Well, we've got some great news.

Today, I'm happy to announce that print subscribers will now receive unlimited premium access to www.semissourian.com as part of their basic subscription. In addition, we will soon be launching a new mobile application for the iPhone, as well as other mobile products, which will also be included at no additional charge to print subscribers. To buy all the Southeast Missourian digital products a la carte without a print subscription will cost nearly double the print price.

In other words, subscribing to the print newspaper, which includes many features unavailable online -- like coupons, pre-print inserts, Dear Abby, comic strips, nationally syndicated columnists and much more -- just became even more valuable.

To gain premium online access, however, print subscribers must register at www.semissourian.com/access or call 573-388-3680. By doing so, not only will you be able to access all premium content on semissourian.com whenever you want -- from breaking news to photo galleries and blogs -- but you will be able to access it however you want: from the main website to the mobile web to your smartphone.

Most people understand why the Southeast Missourian -- along with hundreds of other newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Boston Globe, Paducah Sun, Columbia Daily Tribune, etc. -- launched pay systems for their websites. The fact is that online advertising alone isn't enough to support a newspaper's digital operation. In fact, our website traffic had grown dramatically the past couple of years, but one of the effects was to make it tougher for local advertisers to gain sufficient frequency to promote their products on our website. A pay system not only generates important revenue to support original journalism, it actually makes the audience more valuable to advertisers.

So, why didn't the Southeast Missourian offer unlimited access to print subscribers earlier? Long story short: There was no good way to integrate our print subscriber database with online access. We had hoped that our partner Google would get us there. Unfortunately, Google has taken longer than expected to devise such a system -- and it's still not clear when it will be ready. So, we've decided to launch our own platform. As a result, those who currently subscribe to the semissourian.com website via Google's One Pass will have to re-register on the new system by going to www.semissourian.com/access or by calling 573-388-3680. But here's one great thing for print subscribers: It will now be free! (Current online-only subscribers who don't subscribe to print will receive direct communication via email and, if necessary, phone to help you make the transition from Google One Pass.)

I know much of this sounds complicated. The main information, though, is that print subscribers will be able to access the full website again as part of their basic subscription. To start your full access at no additional charge, go to www.semissourian.com/access or call 573-388-3680 and register today.

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. His email address is jrust@semissourian.com.

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