- Is there free content on the Herald website?
- I'm a print subscriber. Do I have to pay anything extra for online access?
- How do online subscriptions work?
- I'm an e-edition subscriber. What happens to me?
- How do I know how many page views I've seen?
- How can I tell if I'm logged in?
- Why do you use this system?
- How did you come up with the approach you're taking to paid online content?
- Why do you think anyone would pay for the Herald online when they've been getting it free for so long?
- Why don't you focus on improving your online product so it's attractive to advertisers instead of charging people to read it?
- Aren't you worried about losing pageviews that you can sell to advertisers?
- Think of how much money you'd save if you stopped printing and delivering a printed newspaper. Wouldn't that savings be enough to cover the costs of producing an online-only news site?
- Why do you think anyone will pay for the Herald online when they can go elsewhere and get local content for free?
- Isn't everything on the Internet supposed to be free?
- It's a new month but I still get a message telling me I've already used my 12 free views. What's going on?
- How do I sign up?
- I have a question. Whom do I contact?
Is there free content on the Herald website?
Yes. Several categories of content are free, and visitors to www.houstonherald.com have 12 free views of premium content every 30 days. After that, premium content will be available only if you pay for it. All-non premium content is free. Non-premium content categories include national news, classifieds, calendars, weather, contests, photo galleries, the homepage and all section fronts.
I'm a print subscriber. Do I have to pay anything extra for online access?
We appreciate our print subscribers and provide online access at a discounted nominal annual fee. More information about pricing and subscription packages can be found here. The electronic version of the complete Herald — eHerald — is also free.
How do online subscriptions work?
Beginning February 2012, some of our online content, such as local news, is considered "premium." All visitors to our website will have 12 free views of premium content every 30 days. If you want to read more than that, you'll be asked to simply subscribe to have access to all content. If you're already a print subscriber, you'll be asked to register on our site and pay a nominal discounted annual or monthly fee. If you're not a subscriber, after you've viewed 12 items, you'll be asked to choose an online-only or print and online package to keep reading. You can pay online through any credit card through the most secure e-commerce available on the Internet, or you can call us at 417-967-2000 and we will help you sign up.
Why are do you use this system?
This is a business decision we made to sustain the type of news coverage you've come to expect from the Herald. It's one that most newspapers across the country employ. We employ professional reporters who cover all aspects of our community — from local sports to public meetings, breaking news, feature stories and more — so you always know the real story behind what's going on. This type of coverage is expensive, and for years we asked our print readers to help cover the cost while online readers have had access to our news at no charge. Now we ask all our readers to help share the costs.
When we first launched our website in 2000, we simply transferred each week's print news to a digital edition. Since then we have gradually added increasingly popular features that require staff time, software and management. Those features include photo slideshows, videos, blogs, contests, online classifieds, calendar and breaking news as it occurs. We spend many hours per week on our web offerings — including a mobile versions available on smart phones and tablets — and continue to expand content. Additionally, we've added a business directory that includes the latest in technology to help you make educated shopping decisions.
How did you come up with the approach you're taking to paid online content?
One of the most successful online news sites in the world, FT.com — the online edition of the Financial Times of London — pioneered the concept, and the New York Times launched metered subscriptions on its website in early 2011. In the meantime, many U.S. and Missouri newspapers have rolled out their own metered content plans. The one used by the Herald is emerging as the most preferred method. By offering a few stories each month for free, casual visitors who only want to see a story or two every once in a while will have access. Meanwhile, we're asking our loyal readers who benefit the most from our service to help support it. The metered model also is a great way to let people sample our product before deciding whether they want to buy it.
Why do you think anyone would pay for the Herald online when they've been getting it free for so long?
Our readers understand we're a business and that we need revenue to pay for the news we provide. People expect to pay for things that they value, whether it's death notices, obituaries, engagement and marriage announcements, breaking news, features, sports and more. Many subscribe to print and digital offerings.
Why don't you focus on improving your online product so it's attractive to advertisers instead of charging people to read it?
The quality of the product isn't an issue; we have far more online traffic than the typical news organization in a community our size. It's not unusual to have a million page views in any month. Most publishers have come to the conclusion that offering a website as a free online service supported only by advertising is unsustainable and are rethinking that strategy. Many have converted to paid online access or are moving in that direction. Our approach seeks a balance between online subscriptions and advertising. That's not to say we can't improve our content. We are always trying to do that. The real issue is that the market for online advertising is still in its infancy. It doesn't cover the costs of producing the kind of professional, high-quality news that Herald readers have come to expect. Indeed, no one knows if advertising ever will support a legitimate news website.
Aren't you worried about losing pageviews that you can sell to advertisers?
First, the metered approach is designed to keep the loss of traffic to a minimum. Second, we have far more pageviews than we could ever sell to local advertisers, so advertising inventory is not a problem; we still have more than enough pageviews to sell to local advertisers. In fact, with this change, we are able to deliver to our advertisers a high-quality, targeted, paid online audience. Advertisers are much more interested in audience engagement than audience size, so this will improve the quality of our online audience in the eyes of advertisers, not diminish it.
Think of how much money you'd save if you stopped printing and delivering a printed newspaper. Wouldn't that savings be enough to cover the costs of producing an online-only news site?
No, not even close. If we stopped printing the newspaper, we wouldn't just lose the costs associated with the print edition. We'd lose the revenue, too. Like all newspaper companies, only a fraction of the Herald's total revenue comes from online advertising. The rest comes primarily from print advertising and secondarily from print subscriptions. Advertising in our print edition continues to produce the best, most cost effective results for advertisers in comparison to the alternatives. They value these results and continue to buy print advertising because readers respond. If we were to eliminate that revenue stream and rely solely on online advertising, we wouldn't even be able to cover the cost of our staff. Closing the pressroom and eliminating home delivery is not an option from a business standpoint, and it wouldn't be a popular option with the more than 4,000 households who read us in print weekly.
Why do you think anyone will pay for the Herald online when they can go elsewhere and get local content for free?
Most people who really care about staying informed about the community and Texas County see the Herald as the most reliable, credible and trusted source for local information. Our loyal readers who prefer print continue to subscribe. We also have many loyal online readers who are literally scattered around the country and world. Not a day goes by that we don't hear from a former resident or someone with ties to the area. Nearly 5,500 follow the newspaper on Facebook alone. They value our information, which is not available anywhere else.
Isn't everything on the Internet supposed to be free?
We realize there has been a "free" culture related to the Internet. Some users continue to believe content should be free. However, that trend is shifting. The music industry led the way. Software is emerging to enable newspapers to follow suit and charge for online content by day, week, month or year. We predict this change will soon be fairly standard throughout the nation. Newspapers in Missouri are already charging for their content, including nearly all in southwest Missouri.
It's a new month but I still get a message telling me I've already used my 12 free views. What's going on?
When a user is not logged in, our system resets your views every 30 days, beginning with the first day you visited the site. Also, your browser's settings might be preventing us from resetting your views. To ensure that you get all your views, log in or create a free username. When you log in, your views are reset every 30 days, and viewing the same story multiple times will only count as one view.
How do I sign up?
You will need to become a registered member of our site first, once you have logged in you can purchase a subscription. You can view our subscription rate packages by clicking here.
I have a question. Whom do I contact?
We're here to help if you have questions or comments. You can call 417-967-2000 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org