It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer will now delay the online publishing of many of their stories until their printed newspaper is already on people’s doorsteps.

This strikes me as the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard out of the news industry. Protect a product on the decline by making a product on the rise intentionally worse?


Why not just shut your website down entirely so that the only way to get Inquirer content is by paying for a paper to be produced and delivered to you?

16 comments on “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”. Leave your own?
  1. David says:

    And this is hardly the first time this silly sort of decision has been made. It’s a ’99 decision. But I still have clients who’d rather have all their content text be a .jpg of some text so that they can guarantee everyone will see that cool font they like.


  2. This decision seems to be made by people not understanding both their product or audience.

    Both products (paper and online) should be complimenting one another, not in direct competition. There are many reasons the physical paper is highly relevant: there’s its fantastic portability; the tangible nature of turning the pages; the experience of reading the top news stories and flipping it over to catch up with the sport on the back over a coffee or on the train. These are qualities that are not necessarily replicated well online.

    Online obviously has the huge advantage of the live quality to its content, the fantastic contribution of readers comments and thoughts as well as the convenience of RSS feeds enabling you to glimpse the headlines as they evolve over the day.

    This decision seems to imply that there are simply two separate consumers of their content: you are either an old timer that reads the paper and has no time for a computer, and those that only read their news online. Very perplexing indeed.

    Its simply terrible decision and one I’m sure will be reverted back in due course when they realise what a faux pas it is.

  3. […] online publishing of many of their stories until their printed newspaper is already distributed. Mike Davidson: “This strikes me as dumbest idea I’ve ever heard out of the news industry. Protect a […]

  4. Sam says:

    Agreed, Miles.

    I can just imagine what it’s like to work in the web side at that paper.

  5. Doug says:

    This just in, ________ (insert big box store here) will not sell anymore paper products until you first buy a pen or a pencil (sorry markers don’t count).

  6. Paul says:

    Doug, that would be a good comparison if people actually paid for online news. But they don’t. Most people are too selfish to even sign up for a free account to read full stories, leaving newspapers with few ways to accurately prove their readership levels to advertisers.

    Now, I agree that their decision isn’t a smart move when people can get their news from a million other places online, but can you really blame them for trying? Someone has to try something.

  7. […] | mike Filed under Blogs | Subscribe | What is […]

  8. Mike D. says:

    Paul, I’m all for experimenting, but this is kind of like “experimenting” with diesel gas in your non-diesel car. You already know it’s not going to work! :)

    Here’s what’s especially confounding to me about this: In order to prove, or even posit, that this is a good idea, you’d have to poll people with the following questions —

    1. “Why aren’t you paying for our paper?” (Let’s assume the answer is “because I just read everything online” because that’s the only answer that would even cause an idea like this to be floated)

    2. “Would you start paying for the paper again if __% of the stories weren’t available online until the paper version came out?”

    I just can’t imagine anyone saying yes to the second question. If people have decided to remove newspapers from their daily routines, they are mostly likely removed for good. Sure you might get the very rare edge case who *thinks* their answer to that question is yes, but when it comes to opening their wallet, is it really? And even if it is, it is worth crippling your entire newsroom’s workflow for it?

    I’ll bet the editor of the Inquirer $100 that this research has either not been done or that the results of it are being severely misinterpreted.

  9. Doug says:

    @paul, I do pay for an internet connection and computer though, which to me is the pen or pencil (it allows me to write), where the paper is the CMS/Blog software/etc that allows me to publish.

    Taking a step back without thinking about how it is going to vault you forward, often results in last place and not two steps forward.

    Also this quote
    “Most people are too selfish to even sign up for a free account to read full stories”
    is a rather myopic look at what is actually happening. Perhaps they aren’t the selfish ones, you are. You have assumed that the value add by signing up, will entice them to do so.

  10. Greg P says:

    Ehh, sounds like suicide on their part.

    I guess on the bright side, their newspaper website still looks 100 times better than the one for my town ( – even if the news is going to be old(er) now.

    I’ll bet the local news channel websites will pounce on the opportunity to spike their traffic.

  11. Erik says:

    Sounds like they’re trying to rally against the “I want it free and I want it now” mantra. Good luck with that. I’m completely making this up, but it seems like people who read the paper and people who read news online are almost completely different audiences. I never touch the paper, and my girlfriend reads it every morning. Just give us the news as quick as you can in both formats – I’ll choose the one that works for me. If not, I can easily head to Google News. Granted they’re between a rock and a hard place financially, but this is death on a stick.

  12. Emma says:

    “Updated continuously by citizens like you, Newsvine is an instant reflection of what the world is talking about at any given moment.”

    Top story on Newsvine right now? Some women wants the right to massage horses!! I’ll stick with actual news people who may well make silly decisions but at least they go out and get actual news that might relevant rather than the “vote” it up crowd who, as illustrated, don’t have a damn clue!

  13. J says:

    I work for a newspaper and we’ve made a dramatic shift to publishing stories on our website as soon as we have them rather than on our print news cycle. Granted the move should have been made 8 years ago, but what do you expect from execs who were wet nursed in Pangaea?

    We do hold some stories we feel are exclusive for competitive reasons.

  14. Mike D. says:

    Emma: Newsvine is not a replacement for your local news organization. It’s a different filter on the news of the world.

  15. Marty says:

    The only thing this will accomplish is further alienate people who trust the Inquirer — now, since they can’t get their news online in a time-sensitive way, they’ll stop using at all, which will further erode the value of the news reporting (and the income the online venue brings in).

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  16. […] online publishing of many of their stories until their printed newspaper is already distributed. Mike Davidson: This strikes me as dumbest idea I’ve ever heard out of the news industry. Protect a product on […]

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