When the SF Biz Times tweeted “MediaNews will charge for content,” we knew not to get our hopes up — like, in February everyone was abuzz about Hearst doing the same thing with Chronicle (and its other papers’) content, but here we are in May and we’re stlll getting our Gwen Knapp fix gratis, so there you go.

That said, the prospect of, basically, every major SF daily but the Chron (for that’s what MediaNews owns) charging for their content meant we needed to check in with our blood brother, SFist, to hear their take. SFist editor Brock Keeling and your correspondent read the article together, discussing it as we went. Join us for a discussion of valueless content, interactive revenue, and the curious case of Local.com.

4:54 PM
me: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2009/05/11/daily18.html
Brock: hahahahhahahhahahhahaha

4:55 PM
me: well, you know Hearst said that, too, a while ago
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eand/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003946583
Brock: and I’m sure that will be just as successful.

(From the article: “MediaNews also announced the creation of a new local portal (dubbed Local.com), which will have local information, resources, user content, shopping guides and marketplaces.”)

4:56 PM
Brock: oh man, this is sad.
“local.com”
me: Is this it? http://www.local.com/
Brock: how not at all streamlined, local.com
me: dude, Do they even own local.com http://corporate.local.com/about_the_company/
“a leading local search engine and the largest local search network in the United States.”

(From the article: “The company also said that interactive revenue isn’t growing enough to justify keeping access unfettered.”)

4:57 PM
Brock: “interactive revenue isn’t growing enough to justify keeping access unfettered.”
What the fuck is interactive revenue?
Brock: this new news about the online internet world wide web is xciting.
me: when you say “interactive revenue” you have to say it in a robot voice
Brock: please. put. micro. payment. in. robo. slot.
me: beep boop beep new local portal for which we have yet to buy the domain
Brock: this is sad and makes me want to push my eyeballs out with my thumbs.

(from the article: “giving away the content that appears in the print edition for free does an ‘injustice to our print subscribers’ and creates ‘perceptions that our content has no value.'”)

5:00 PM
me: so what I’m getting from this: if free web content creates the perception that “our content has no value,” then local.com and these “niche web sites” will be populated with valueless content
amirite?

5:01 PM
Brock: exactly

(from the article: The company didn’t outline exactly how it will charge for content, saying that it will “explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value” to the content.)

5:03 PM
me: “apply real value” HAHAHA these people are TOOLS
Brock: real value? that is presumptuous. and, ultimately, wrong.

5:04 PM
Brock: But I look forward to “borrowing” their paid content.
me: As do I. Brock, this can’t happen soon enough.

5:05 PM
Brock: Riches will be had. Caviar tasted. Dom sipped. Why? All because of non-porn-related paid content.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    If I don’t say this enough, well let me say it again, you both ROCK.

    I love how they think that the “youth” readers just want entertainment news or something…we were talking about this today at work…it’ll be interesting in terms of what happens with number of readers, who those are, etc. with these paid walls.

    All I know is in the 21st Century, if it ain’t available to be found on The Google, it don’t exist.

  • generic

    Hear, hear.

  • be_devine

    I’d like to see a whole lot more of the IM logs between Eve and Brock. Please!

  • Eve Batey

    Not without a court order.

  • Jackson West

    As I pointed out on (shameless plug) NBCBayArea.com, the SFGate sure stands to benefit from this development. On another note, my last couple of employers had paid accounts to the Wall Street Journal specifically so we could reblog their content. However, if they don’t at least publish headlines and summaries via RSS of their pay-walled content, expect it to be completely ignored by other outlets looking to link to the items.

    Me, I did just pay for a Harper’s subscription because I wanted to read a particular article online, and was incredibly annoyed to find out that their archives are, wait for it, PDFs. Ugh. At least I’ll be saving money by getting the magazine delivered instead of spending the cover price three times a year at City Lights when I haven’t been home recently enough to steal my father’s copies.