Texas Freedom Paper's Paid Online Content a Sign of What's to Come to the Orange County Register?

Valley Morning Star of Harlingen, Texas, announced today on Saturday it "has been selected to be the first newspaper" in the Irvine-based Freedom Communications' chain that is flagshipped by the Orange County Register "to use its online edition to boost readers' subscription values."

Translation: Valley Morning Star is now charging for online content.

Deeper meaning: "We will be the first ones at Freedom to do this, but we certainly won't be the last," says publisher Tyler Patton.

Even deeper meaning: The Register will be charging for online content, too.

The way it's being rolled out in the Lone Star State is Valley Morning Star readers who subscribe seven days a week to the printed newspaper will get free, unlimited access to the online edition, valleystar.com. All they have to do is register on the site.

"It will allow greater value to our many loyal print-edition subscribers by not giving away the news to non-subscribers," Patton said. "The days of giving content away, which costs money to create and for which we charge our print subscribers, I think, are just over."

Texas Freedom Paper's Paid Online Content a Sign of What's to Come to the Orange County Register?

So, while this is being portrayed as a "value-added" to loyal subscribers, what it really is is a fuck you to online readers, who now must clog up their driveways with yellowing, unread newspapers if they want to continue reading free online. Or, they can pay for an online-only subscription.

"It's something that's being looked at in this industry by virtually every newspaper company," said Patton.

He--and the rest of Freedom, including the Register--had better hope most readers don't react the way "mnassour" did in the comments section under the Valley Morning Star announcement: "ROFL! I've got news for you guys....you're just not worth it. I hope the (relatively) few advertisers you have on the web page understand they won't be getting the views they paid for."


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