by Carl, 02/25/2013, 7:32 PM

The Seattle Times is a private entity, and they have a right to run their business however they want. But The Seattle Times also wants, and gets, special treatment because of their value to the community. Sure, they didn’t always live up to their ideals, but who does? Maybe it was excusable when it was just the nepotism of having an editor who maybe can’t write a decent sentence in English because he was the Publisher’s son. Maybe it was excusable when The Seattle Times went after Darcy Burner with lies. Maybe even when they ran their free ad for their preferred candidates and ballot positions, they deserved a pass because they were providing news that you couldn’t get anywhere else.

But when The Seattle Times makes a decision that they’ll deny access to their website to most potential readers it seems like they’ve abandoned the idea of keeping the public informed generally. When they reduce access to their web page, well they’re providing less of a public good, so it may be time to reconsider their B & O tax exemption.

Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t think newspapers should have that 40% exemption in the first place. But as more and more papers move to the paywall model, I’d like the legislature to strip the exemption from papers that hide their content behind a paywall. It’s probably too late to do that in this session (unless there’s a special session) but it’s one more place for our cash strapped state to look once newspapers stop providing a public good.

9 Responses to “At A Certain Point, They Aren’t A Public Good”

1. Chris Stefan spews:

OK so just like every other news site that has gone to a paywall the times has given me yet another reason to not read them.

BTW I DO pay for on-line content, I have Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Cook’s Illustrated, and Consumer Reports subscriptions.

Offer some content I’d be willing to cough $20/year up for and we’ll talk, otherwise have fun while you shrink yourself into further irrelevance.

2. Chris Stefan spews:

Oh and WSJ I’d actually give you money if you lowered your prices a bit and didn’t try to push the paper edition on me.

3. bluesky spews:

Yes, Boardman’s article is so informative, giving us the Times’ reasons for charging for on-line access, but without informing us of what the charges are. Great reporting, Boardman!

Well, here is what he didn’t report: $3.99/week for on-line access only, or $207.48/year! Cripes that a lot of moolah for mostly AP “retweets.” Forget that. It’s cheaper, however, if you subscribe just to the Sunday edition, for some reason. That not only plunks down a doorstop’s worth of ads wrapped around a tiny core of “news” that you have to get rid of one way or another; but also includes free on-line access, for $3.15/week. How does that make any sense?

4. Czechsaaz spews:

Shouldn’t the Seattle Times be paying the AP and New York Times for every article that’s read on line? Sure, I’d be happy to pay you again for today’s article that I read yesterday from its source.

5. Ekim spews:

Speaking of AP news feeds, AP does have a feed open to the public.

6. rhp6033 spews:

# 3: The prices the ST says it will implement just goes to show that the Blethen family is not really looking a online access as a revenue source, they just want to discourage online access to the point where you will buy the print version – with online access as an “ad-on”. The reason they push the Sunday edition is because that’s the one where they deliver the most paid advertising, in the form of those inserts. In their mind, it’s the only thing that pays for them, everything else is an ad-on.

Personally, I won’t buy the print edition. The news is stale and I can get it from other sources online. The whole dead-tree edition concept is obsolete, awaste of resources, and environmentally harmful (trees farmed, newsprint produced, ink produced, printing, delivery to doorsteps, and gasoline used daily each step in the process).

7. rhp6033 spews:

by the way, there is the B&O tax exemption, the city tax exemption, and the state sales tax exemption.

As it is, if they aren’t printing the news, shouldn’t they be paying sales taxes for advertising earned on the online content? If it’s bundled together so it can’t fairly be seperated, shouldn’t that make all income no longer eligible for the special tax exemptions? Why should bloggers have to pay taxes on the revenue they get off advertising, but the much larger Seattle Times?

8. ArtFart spews:

Amazing…after it’s taken us over two years to persuade the Seattle Times to stop littering our front porch with freebie copies of what’s left of their daily print edition.

9. Bert Chadick spews:

I don’t mind paying for information, but the Seattle Times just doesn’t produce two hundred bucks worth of content a year that interests me. About fifty bucks a year would be much more reasonable. They have very little distribution cost compared to the dead tree version and you still will get ads. I do subscribe to the NYT online because it really is the newspaper of record. For local news, there’s always the PI.