I haven’t subscribed to the Chronicle since 2008, after they made a number of editorial decisions I vehemently disagreed with as a reader. I didn’t stop reading, though (this was right when the Ed Jew case was in court!); I just quit subscribing. I stopped reading all Chron articles except for hilarious local politics ones (which I got online), and regretted deeply not being able to read the comics, but that was pretty much it.
Previously: The SF Chronicle Is Now Behind A Paywall
I feel bad, though! I want to support local journalism, and I understand that part of the reason why the quality of the Chron has struggled so badly recently is that their financial problems outstripped their ambition. You cut budgets, work quality suffers — I get that. So here I am, and you can call me a sucker: I just signed up for the $12/month SF Chronicle digital subscription, with the hard copy Sunday edition home-delivered. Walk with me as I experience my first few days as a digital subscriber!
Sunday, March 25, 2013
I’m signing up! Clicky-clicky-click! In signing up, I find it sort of unsettling how obviously the Chron is trying to upsell these: the thing where you list the cheaper subscription option with a monthly rate ($12/month) against the pricier paper subscription option with a weekly one ($5/week) is irritating in the same way that going to Walgreens and having to divide out the number of tampons in the box by the cost of the coupon is. I know they need the money, but please, that’s just insulting.
After getting lost in the signup process, I finally end up at the actual site, and…. I think I’ve been had. I already saw all these articles in my RSS feed today! This has neither the kicky online graphics appeal of SFGate.com, nor the reassuring visual solidity of the paper. It looks basically like someone took all the turquoise off SFGate.com. There isn’t a dedicated comics page, there’s no tables in the sports section — basically, all the paper-only features are missing, and the fun web appeal of the Gate is gone too. And I can read all the if-it-bleeds-it-leads pieces on the Gate for free still! And the national section is all AP stories! What did I pay for again?
I was hoping the Chron would use this as an opportunity to re-invest in its content. I’d be willing to pay $12/month for good and interesting journalism — on anything! Better business coverage? Thoughtful pieces on SF sports? Exposes of corruption in local politics? Even retreads of Valencia Street coverage would be fine! But if it’s just going to be more of the same, I don’t know how willing I am to subscribe to a paper that doesn’t give me very much original to read. $12 for reformatted AP articles and Matier and Ross? I don’t know, guys.
Tomorrow! I’ll try using the digital Chron as my primary news source! This should be terrible. (please, no one at City Hall do anything hilarious tomorrow.)