Updated, with new info on the bottom…
ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 28, 12:30 P.M.: When Orange County Register owner Aaron Kushner first took the reins of OC's paper of record last year, one of the first things he did was announce that he was going to erect a paywall for the paper's website. Kushner didn't say when or how it would work, but details are starting to emerge from Grand Street, both official and not.
The unofficial part: the Register wants to institute some type of daily pass that would allow readers to be able to access the website for a full day, along with its archives. And Kushner wants a full paywall–no freebies for laggers, save for some blogs and incomplete stories. Hell, even partial subscribers to the paper will only be able to access the paper's website on the days they subscribe–how fucked up is that?
The official part: As seen below. Here's a letter sent to subscribers today. Our only remark at this time is that we don't expect this full paywall to last for too long, once readers start revolting. And is BugMeNot still around?
Anyhoo, the letter:
We cherish our subscribers and the incredible support you've shown for the Register's mission. We are here in the service of Orange County, and our subscribers believe in the vital role the Register plays to add richness to your daily life and help Orange County prosper.
We hope you've noticed the exciting investments we've made to create even more value for our subscribers. We have increased the depth of our newspaper by 50 percent by introducing standalone sections, more than doubled our coverage of local news and essential topics, and hired more than 100 journalists.
In April, we will take another promising step to reinforce the value of your subscription by introducing Digital Access. The local content that you access digitally through OCRegister.com is moving to a digital subscription model. Current print subscribers will have free digital access on the days you are subscribed to the print-edition. You simply need to link your account to activate your free Digital Access. In the coming week, we will send a follow-up email with instructions on how to link your account.
As always, we appreciate your support of the Register as we embark on a journey of improvements–a process we pledge to continue indefinitely. Together, we will bring our communities closer together and help Orange County thrive.
UPDATE, MARCH 30, 13:00 P.M. I've previously called Kushner the Stuart Smalley of journalism, and that label will always apply. But let me apply another label to his paper's coverage of itself: Pravda, as in the legendarily bad newspaper of Russia's Communist Party and not the fashion line.
See, the paper will only allow positive coverage and comments about itself to appear in its pages and website. If you don't believe that the Register is the best gosh-darn newspaper in the country, then you're a bad person, and the paper simply won't acknowledge a meanie. In that spirit, the newspaper published a story about it erecting a paywall late yesterday on its website, and blocked readers from commenting at all, knowing full well there's going to be a revolt.
At first, I thought the commenting ban was a glitch with the website when the story first published late last night, but it's 1 p.m. on a Saturday, and no comments are being allowed on this story and this story alone. Here's a screen grab of the end of another Reg story currently up, showing the ability to comment:
And here's the end of the story by Mary Ann Milbourn:
It doesn't even have her contact info!
I went on another computer, just to make sure the Register hadn't somehow banned me specifically from commenting because I always post our stories in their comments section every time we beat their ass and they don't acknowledge us–nope, the comment ban is there as well. And Aaron Smalley (or is it Stuart Kushner) strikes again…HILARIOUS!