Our sister newspaper - the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake - this week launched its All Access subscription package, meaning that only subscribers can access news content on its website.
For now, stories on the Lake Placid News website will remain as is, meaning the content is still free; however, All Access might eventually make its way to the Olympic Village's hometown newspaper, as it has to the Enterprise.
And we welcome these changes. After all, who else is giving away their products for free? Would you think of stopping by the South Meadow Farm and asking Tony Corwin for free maple syrup? Would you stop by High Peaks Cyclery and ask Brian Delaney for a free bicycle? Or would you expect the Clark family to give you free access to the Palace Theatre anytime you want to see a movie? Of course not. These are businesses, just like the newspaper is a business, and all our products have value.
Some of our younger readers may not remember it, but not very long ago, one couldn't read newspaper articles for free. You had to buy the paper first, or get it from someone who had bought it.
Those days are coming back, with modern touches thrown in, starting at the Enterprise with the launch of its All Access subscription package.
A little more than a decade ago, the Lake Placid News and the Enterprise joined the wave of newspapers posting their content on their websites for anyone to read at no charge. It was a big risk to give away a valuable product, but there were several reasons for trying it:
One was to get more people reading the news, and it worked. Now we have more readers, but fewer are paying for it.
The Web was also a new platform for advertising, and newspapers hoped the extra ad revenue would pay for the content to be free, the same way television and radio content is free. Online advertising helps, but it will never replace print, only complement it. The transformation will be a mix where online will slowly be adjusted to the level of print.
The final reason was less noble: Everyone else was doing it. They were jumping on the digital train but weren't sure where it was going without a business model that was sustainable.
The risk didn't pay off, and newspapers across the nation have started charging online readers, in various ways. At long last, we, too, have declared the free-news experiment a failure. We could keep it going, but eventually we would have to reduce the quality of our product, the way many larger newspapers have done. Some papers have cut staff and drastically reduced the amount of news they cover. Some went even further and dropped their print editions to three days a week just to keep their reduced content free online.
Adirondack Publishing, which operates the Lake Placid News and the Enterprise, plans on continuing our high standards of journalism and quality product. The company has a combined nine-person news staff just for the Tri-Lakes area in the northern Adirondacks - no other medium has more than a single reporter here - plus a couple dozen other employees to produce, print and distribute the papers, sell ads and manage the books. Those people need to get paid; they have families to support. That means we can no longer offer the fruits of their labor for nothing.
Like any other local business, we need your support. We need you to be a subscriber. In return, the Enterprise is offering you more than ever. Our newspapers want to exceed your expectations and engage you with content that affects your lives.
On www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com, the daily's new replica edition for your smartphone, tablet or computer now gives you an exact digital copy of each page of every paper - including content online readers are missing now like police calls, ads and comics - all in high-definition image quality, plus a lot of cool new features. You can make the type size bigger or even have the story read aloud to you. And advertisements will appear in the replica edition.
Plus, you'll get to use the regular Enterprise website, with its archive of articles dating back to April 2008. Print subscribers get all this at no extra charge. Sign up on the website.
Now you have a decision to make: Is knowing about local news worth paying for? We believe it is. Choose to be in the loop. Choose to know. Subscribe today.