What will save newspapers, is more people reading them
whenever they decide they're going to flog some online subscription, they seem to assume you're a buyer of the physical paper. The buyers of the physical paper as still buying physical papers, the thing they should be concerning themselves with is the convertion of existing free-online readers to paid-online readers.
As always happens, the majority of people bail then the wall goes up. How about a paper slashing the price and trying to keep as many as possible readers as possible?
I normally dip into the Guardian most days - but possibly for 10 mins max. Read headlines and maybe an article that grabs my fancy. This is not the same as having a whole physical paper in my hands. No idea if anybody else shares the feeling, but if I've bought a paper I feel it's my responsibility if I've not read it all. If I don't choose to read all the stories on a site, I feel it's because they weren't worth clicking on, or I had something else to do, or - basically if I only read 10% of a paper each day I don't want a 90% refund on the paper copy, but damned if I pay the full whack for potential access online.
Maybe papers should follow the model of high-number cable TV channels. Get ISPs to bundle access free as a differentiator. Buy a Kindle, Buy a Virgin XL package and get free access? Would only cost pennies a month per user and give another bullet point on the sales pitch. FFS Sky bought UKOnline - Flog the HDTV, VoIP phone, internet and access to The Sun/Times in the same advert. If nothing else you get to put a whopping great potential saving on the marketing. Sorry, lets combine the two. Buy a Sky ADSL package and a Kindle - and you get free papers delivered for the duration of your Sky TV contract.
I think my take away point is that currently papers make their money from adverts, not the cash you hand over at a newsagents. Stop pretending. When I get on a plane and get a copy of The Times, it's not a special favour from BA. It's News International wanting me to look at their adverts.
Big thing they're missing is that newspapers just replicate their dead-tree content online and maybe add a comments section at the bottom. Why on earth aren't those stories hyperlinked together? When I see a name in a story, or a reference to a previous story, can't I just click and see it?