A regional daily editor has asked readers what improvements would make them pay to read his title’s journalism online.
His call for suggestions comes after HTFP revealed in March that Post owner JPIMedia was set to trial paywalls on the websites of two of its other dailies – The News, in Portsmouth, and The Star, in Sheffield.
JPIMedia has since unveiled a new newsroom restructure trial, affecting titles in the North-East of England, which will see journalists move away from the print production process and concentrate on digital work.
The Leeds-based Post introduced online registration for readers last year in a move designed to prevent the use of ad-blocking software, with James justifying the move on the grounds that the paper’s “high quality journalism” needed to be paid for.
“Good editors put the views of their readers first, so: Q: What would you like The Yorkshire Post to be – online – such that you’d be prepared to back our journalism with your own hard-earned money?”
He has since received dozens of responses, including from journalists.
“I think YP could also generate excellent stories by hosting events where marginalised groups meet the powerful, offering direct accountability and helping to depolarise some debates.”
And Daily Telegraph journalist Verity Bowman replied: “More investigations and features into life in northern cities. There are loads of topical issues that aren’t being touched by London-based papers, so you could take advantage.
“People in the north, especially working class, often don’t feel like they’re represented – you could fix this.”
Twitter user Bob Acer said he would be happy to pay for access to the Post online “just as it is” but Gerry Crookes, from PR firm Crux Communications, urged the paper to “rise above the urge to introduce posts on social media with trite comments like ‘who would do such a thing’ & ‘what terrible news.”
Gerry added: “It’s irritating and damages the feeling of impartiality….it’s beneath the YP as I know and respect it.”
James declined to comment on the consultation when approached by HTFP, but wrote in a follow-up tweet: “Every response is being gathered for me to pore over. I’m overwhelmed, actually, with the quality of the feedback.
“I’ll make sure our next steps are in tune with that which the readers want.”