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H-T online going subscriber-only

Scott Tibbs, September 30, 2003

The Herald-Times is changing to subscriber-only for their Web site. Currently, the main Web site is free for the current day's paper and the previous day's paper is readable until noon the next day. The H-T charges a $5 a month subscription fee for archives after that.

That changes October 1st. Then, people who have the seven-day subscription package for the paper version will have access to the paper and archives as part of their subscription. Anyone who does not subscribe to the print edition will have to pay $5 a month.

I don't have a big problem with this because I already subscribe to the print version. I will come out ahead because I get access to the archives without the extra $5 a month fee. A reasonable compromise, and it gives an incentive to subscribe to the paper.

The Herald-Times is a paper that, while a "local" publication, has a wide reader base because many people live here for a few years and leave. Indiana University graduates and others check the news Web site to see what is going on in their former residence. It is reasonable to expect some sort of compensation for that. I know I kept track of local events when I lived away from Bloomington for a year after graduating from IU.

I'm not too worried about this being a trend, at least not for a few years. The Internet is still a new market and is experiencing growing pains.

One thing the H-T could do is bring back Hoosier Talk (with a clean slate, all usernames and old threads deleted) and charge a monthly fee (say $2 a month) for each username. First, that would reduce the glut of multiple usernames that was a problem on the old board and would encourage more responsible behavior as opposed to the trolling that killed the old forums. There is no reason the forums cannot work, and there are plenty of people who could serve as "volunteer moderators" so that all of the "babysitting" duties need not fall on one or two people in the H-T Web staff.