(A shorter version of today’s column first appeared as a blog entry on the C-I’s free community website. To start your own blog, go to community.chronicle-independent.com, look for Blogs in the left-hand column under our Photo Gallery and click “Post a Blog.”)
We’ve gotten a few comments on our Facebook page regarding our decision to put our news, sports, opinion, Localife and other editorial content behind a paywall on the C-I’s new website, www.chronicle-independent.com.
In talking with our publisher, Mike Mischner, for an article we ran a few weeks before the launch of the website, we came to this inescapable conclusion:
People buy our newspaper -- whether from a newstand/rack or via subscription -- because we’ve been trusted for more than 120 years to bring you Kershaw County’s story. If you buy that content in print form, why shouldn’t you buy that content online?
No one else does what we do the way we do. Not other newspapers, not Columbia’s TV stations, not other websites. We do.
This was hammered home during this past week’s election. The races for Kershaw County Sheriff and Kershaw County Council chairman were, perhaps, the most important local elections this county’s had in decades. Who was with the candidates when they won? We were.
Vincent Sheheen’s run for governor was one of the most historic things, politically, to happen in Kershaw County in ... well, 40 years, when John Carl West did the same.
The outcome might have been different, but who gave you the only in-depth interview with Sheheen after the election? We did.
Whether online or in print, it’s the same content. In a way, you’re actually getting more for your buck. There are things you can do with online content that you can’t in print. We can, and have, publish additional pictures of a story that we didn’t have room for in the newspaper. We can, and have, provide links to source material and other websites which, obviously, the printed word can’t. In the future, we’ll be providing video and other multimedia content to go along with the printed word.
At the same time, we are fiercely devoted to bringing you the best newspaper that covers all aspects of life in Kershaw County. It is our bread and butter, if you will, and we are not abandoning it. Chronicle-Independent.com is an extension of that newspaper, not a replacement for it.
But, and here’s where the value of the content comes into play, we here at the C-I work hard to bring you that content regardless of how you read it. Whether you hold a newspaper in your hand or visit our website on your computer or hand-held device, you’re still reading the result of that work.
Not to sound too selfish here, but we like to be compensated for that work. Your subscriptions and the dollars local merchants spend to advertise with us help to pay our salaries. That’s only fair. You expect to be paid for the work you do; so do we.
With that in mind, we think we’ve come up with a pretty fair package of subscriptions for you. If you want to subscribe to the newspaper, you can do so for $75 a year or $38.50 for six months. Those are the same prices for our annual or six-month Web-only subscriptions. You can also subscribe to our print edition for $20.75 for three months.
Now, we certainly don’t expect people to pay $75 each for both print and online subscriptions. That would be $150. Instead, we offer print/online combos of $100 for a year and $50 for six month (instead of $75).
What if you’re already a print subscriber? Well, we have a deal for you there, too: adding a six-month Web subscription to an existing six-month print subscription is only $11.50; adding Web to an existing annual subscription is $25.
Oh, and for you print die-hards, if you want a three-month subscription to the newspaper only, that’s $20.75.
As you can see, we have a lot of different options, all of which are pretty good deals for a newspaper and website that offers you the best coverage of Kershaw County and its communities.
The question you have to ask yourself is why you’re putting 75 cents into a news rack or spending up to $75 a year for a subscription to the paper. I’m willing to bet the answer is that you enjoy reading our articles; appreciate the work we put into giving you the information you need to, say, vote in last week’s election; or get a kick out of seeing your kid in a photo their school’s submitted to us.
If that’s the case, then we hope you’re willing to pay for the same articles, information and pictures when they’re on the Web.
More news sites in South Carolina and around the country are moving to a subscription model for their online content. We think we offer the best deal for the best content that affects your everyday life.
We hope you’ll join us as we head further into the 21st century covering your county and your hometowns as only we can.