A story, an op-ed attached, came across my radar and I clicked because it looked interesting. And a screen popped up: You’ve reached your limit of free stories. You can subscribe for a mere (whatever). So I tried again, this time in incognito mode which often skirts the problem. Same screen, noting that I was in incognito mode and they were not going to let me beat their system. Fair enough.
I completely understand the need for a publication to make money. They have expenses. I get it. Oh boy, do I get it. But at the same time, they want and need eyeballs, without which they cease to exist. And they’re not shy about asking people like me to send eyeballs their way. I get emails, press releases, pitches all the time from a surprisingly wide variety of publications, seeking to entice me to write about them and thereby send them new eyeballs. Most of the pitches aren’t right for me, but that’s the nature of the beast.
Every once in a while, however, something will catch my interest and a click, only to find “You’ve reached your limit,” of whatever version that publication prefers. Guess what? Then I can’t read your story. I can’t write about your story. Why pitch me on your story if you won’t let me read it?
Of course, I could subscribe, as I do to the New York Times because Dr. SJ likes to do the crossword puzzle, but it’s really not feasible to subscribe to the 1000 publications, online and off, newspaper and commentary, legit and, well, not quite as legit, where something worthwhile may be lurking. There are more complicated means of circumventing the paywall, but frankly (and some of you nerds won’t grasp this at all), I’m just not that interested in doing cartwheels to sneak in the back door. You don’t think it’s too much to do? Great. You do a blawg and leave me alone. You don’t get a vote.
The upshot is that I’m not going to subscribe to every publication that has a story that interests me. I’ve asked certain pubs to give me free access, since they’re pitching me their stories already, and either get crickets in response or a “we don’t do that.” Yet the emails continue, ironically stating at the bottom that the reason I get them is that I’ve subscribed to receive their email, which never happened.
Is this a big deal? Not really. It does make things a bit harder for me, and often stories from your local media or industry websites sent me don’t get read because I can’t gain access and have no clue why I would want to go through any greater effort than a quick click, since many neglect to explain why I would care to read it in the first place. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything asked of me, including reading random stories in far-away newspapers about banal events of parochial concern.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate being sent stories and pitches. I do. There’s no way I can keep an eye on everything. But the effort to follow stories and ideas by reading publications that court my interest, but then won’t let me read, has grown tiresome. Hey, you can’t figure out how to give me access? Then I can’t send you eyeballs. Life goes on.