Miami Herald Asks For Donations

Hurting for cash like all newspapers, the Miami Herald has found a way to scrounge up some extra cash — ask online readers to donate, NBC Miami reports.

Just a few months ago, the Herald required online users to register to view stories online, and a straight fee for browsing the Herald’s stories online may be around the corner.

“We’re trying something new, we’re putting it out there to see if it works, to see what the response is,” said Elissa Vanaver, Vice President/Assistant to the Publisher at the Herald. She said there are currently no plans to start charging for content.

How much would you donate to your favorite news source? Ahem, after you’re done filling up the Consumerist Tip Jar, of course.

Herald to Online Users: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? [NBC Miami]

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  1. pervy_the_clown says:

    I’m a journalism major, and lately I’ve kinda wondered if I’ve picked the wrong major. It seems like a dying enterprise, but goddammit I just love it so much.

    • tbax929 says:

      I was a journalist for five years and left (voluntarily) because I burned out. The pay was terrible; the hours were insane. The best part was getting in free to sporting events – I was a sports writer. The worst part was working almost every night and definitely every weekend.

      You don’t have to write for a newspaper in order to write, though. Good luck with your endeavor.

    • sammy_b says:

      I don’t think that the skill of journalism is dying – people still need to know what is going on, and often get their news in written form, just online rather than in the paper. (also, i’m not talking about online versions of newspapers, which are also dying.) I’m speaking more to blogs and other news outlets that exist mainly online. i think you’ll certainly find work in journalism if you love it – you just have to be open minded about the type of work that you do.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s not a dying enterprise. Not the writing itself, nor the investigatory nature of it. I was a journalism grad as well, and trust me – it’s not going anywhere. It’s just that the medium has changed and the people who are supposed to know what’s going on have no clue what’s going on. And in the meantime, while some people get their act together, people like you and me who are hardworking industry people are left with these practical issues like needing a job, and needing shelter and food. Silly us.

      • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

        I dunno Pi.. have you watched the news much lately? So many reports are issued without any fact-checking, simply to make sure it’s the first report. There’s a lot less investigation than there should be in most cases.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          That’s an issue of greed. When people are greedy to be first, and to get the scoop, they can sometimes fall flat on their faces. Sometimes it pays off, but most of the time it doesn’t. I’m talking about the investigatory stories, the ones that really take time to work on and simmer, like the massive investigation done by the Washington Post on the Robert Wone killing. That was good stuff, and meticulously researched. Will mistakes happen? Yes, but there are people willing to really work for their rewards.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      Forget journalism, come over to the darkside…PR. /cackle

    • mac-phisto says:

      just like everything else in america, fund managers are killing newspapers. it’s not a dying industry for lack of want – people thrive on news in all it’s forms. it’s dying b/c the people that own today’s papers seek to extract every last cent possible & then toss them aside.

      a good read, if you have the time -> http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20471

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      “…but goddammit I just love it so much.” So said Jeffrey Dahmer when asked about the taste of human flesh.

      Moral of the story: just because you love it…doesn’t mean it’s right.

    • Geotpf says:

      That’s not true.

      The thing is is that newspapers have a give-away-the-razor-and-make-it-up-by-charging-more-for-the-blades business model, which quits working after somebody else starts to sell the blades for less money.

      That is, the “news” portion of the newspaper is nearly free. The two quarters you put in the machine or five bucks a month you give the paper boy don’t even cover the cost of printing and delivering the paper, let alone the costs of making the content inside. The profit is in the ads-and they are moving online, to non-newspaper websites.

      That is, websites like Ebay, Craigslist, Monster.com, Redfin.com, etc. exist, and none of them are owned by a newspaper. The only way to save newspapers is to go back in time to 1995 and create newspaper-owned websites that are competitive with such websites. It’s too late now.

      Lots of businesses act like zombies for years, decades even, after they make a bad decision that eventually kills them. GM and Chrysler, for instance, can only save themselves by going back to 1981 or so and take less profit and put more money into building more reliabile cars than Honda and Toyota, preventing the current loyality to those brands amoungst many people.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Just to cut down on questions, the kitteh in the picture appears to have been tattooed on their ear, which explains all the green. When I was helping to raise a Seeing Eye puppy, they tattooed him the day they brought him to us, so for like three days, he had this big green ear that got lighter. Many places do this to show the kitteh in question is fixed. All my kitteh, save Cynder, have little “X”‘s in their ear from when they were fixed.

    • searonson says:

      And here I was thinking that all the rebellious teen kitty’s are just dying their ears green to make mom mad…

    • H3ion says:

      When they brought you the seeing eye puppy, did they insist on tatooing your ear as well?

    • webweazel says:

      Our newest dog, female, got a small green line tattooed on her belly near the incision when she was spayed. On the belly seems to make more sense to me, as it is harder to notice. But, I guess it depends on who is doing the snipping. One person works on the surgery down below, and someone else works on the other “end” doing the tattooing.

      The tattooing is so much better. We used to work with a rescue organization, and we had quite a few animals out for spay surgery which were already spayed. (One cannot always tell when a female has been done.)

  3. temporaryscars says:

    I have a journalism degree. Haven’t used it much though. The jobs just don’t pay enough to make a living.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Mine has helped me immensely. There is more to do out there than just journalism. You don’t have to work at the NY Times to actually do things. You can apply your skills to all facets. Right now, I’m not even anywhere near a newsroom, but at my job, I’m using my skills to come up with new methods to doing things, and new tactics that I learned from my previous experience working in a newsroom. And I’m using my skills learned from school to encourage other people to think about what they do in other ways, like with a more investigatory nature.

      • tbax929 says:

        I didn’t major in journalism; I majored in English and History. However, I’ve found that the ability to write well, and also speak well, has proved immensely valuable to me in every job I’ve ever had. Even if one chooses not to actually write for a living, the tools garnered from majoring in Journalism (and English as well) can be applied to lots of other things.

      • temporaryscars says:

        My first job in journalism paid $7.75. Subsequent jobs weren’t much better. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that this diploma is worth more than the paper it’s printed on.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          When were you being paid near minimum wage? My first job paid more than twice that amount per hour.

          • temporaryscars says:

            Around 2006.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              I started around that time as well. Even small markets started off paying around $25,000. Your paper must have either been tiny, or they’re very stingy.

              • RandomHookup says:

                I could easily see that in the non-mainstream brands of journalism. I worked for a big name alternative paper in a big city and we paid the entry level person about $8-9/hour to be an assistant and then extra bucks for writing articles freelance. I could easily see entertainment oriented media paying almost nothing because people want the access and the schwag.

  4. Dondegroovily says:

    Fee/donation or not, requiring registration to view articles alone will doom your paper. Congrats, Miami Herald, you’ve just removed yourself from the search engine.

    The best things newspapers can do for their online sites is just the opposite – increase visibility by not restricting archives and not killing links. Slate doesn’t kill links, ever. If you Google Clinton’s infamous “depends on the definition of is” line, the first result is Slate. Slate is getting readers from these older stories that still interest people, not the rest of the media who kills their links and/or restricts their archives.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Washington Post requires registration. Not paid registration, but for you to have an account. WSJ requires you to pay and register for full online access. Somewhere, it’s working. Why other papers haven’t gone the way of WSJ’s subscription based model, I have no idea.

      • bdgbill says:

        Making people create an account for free content is stupid. The only value the paper gets from these free registrations is the ability to track usage stats. That can be done in other ways that do not force readers to jump through hoops. Either that or they are just outright selling email addresses to spammers.

        I don’t think I have ever registered at a site just to read a single article. I just go back to Google and click on one of the other gazillion links that came up with the same story.

        • mac-phisto says:

          yeah, i hate registering. it’s at the point now where i’m surprised i don’t have to create a username & password to take a dump in my own toilet. i just don’t do it anymore. not unless i know i’ll use it again. heck, i lurked on this site for 3 months before i signed up for an account – if consumerist required reg to read, i never would’ve become insanely addicted.

          too bad things like the .net global password haven’t taken off more, that would be a great way to get me into sites that require a reg.

      • RandomHookup says:

        The WSJ has a specific niche and employers/investors are willing to pay for that information. Sports and porn are about the only other content types people are willing to pay for (and only sometimes). Local news is useful, but harder to find someone willing to pay for. National and regional news is free all around us. If you start charging your readers for online content, some other publication is going to try to fill the void with free content. You have to have a competitive advantage or a monopoly on certain types of content for people to be willing to pay.

      • Dondegroovily says:

        WaPost requires reg, and that’s why I never read it.

  5. Dondegroovily says:

    They can request donations without requiring registration to view. Just put a big DONATE button on every page. You’d probably get more donations that way, since you’d have more readers.

  6. tbax929 says:

    My local paper in Tuscon is terrible, IMO. There are always tons of grammatical and typographical errors. However, I read the Philly Inquirer and Daily News online everyday. If they asked me to pay to do so, I probably would. Where else would I get all that negativity about Philly sports teams from the writers and fans that I’ve come to expect?

    • Tim says:

      Yeah, copyeditors are frequently the victims of layoffs. Either that or reporters are laid off and copyeditors often have to fill in for them and have less time to edit.

      • tbax929 says:

        They get rid of seasoned editors and bring in folks who demand less pay but, unfortunately, know a lot less about being an editor.

    • myrna_minkoff says:

      The Inquirer is such a shadow of its former self, it makes me want to cry when I think about it.

  7. Tim says:

    If newspapers were allowed to become non-profit, these donations could be tax-deductible! But I’ll be the first to say there are some major problems with Sen. Cardin’s bill introduced in March that would have enabled this.

    I don’t mean to hate on Consumerist, but these posts about newspapers always have the same exact comments: “Newspapers still exist?,” “No one will pay for news and you’re being stupid by even mentioning it as a possibility.”

    I’m a print journalist, and the problem isn’t with paper. I speak for many of my colleagues when I say that we don’t care about paper. What we care about is writing news (as opposed to, say, speaking it). If we could do that online only, that’d be awesome. But the advertising market online is so saturated that it’s next to impossible to establish a well-staffed, financially sound, reputable news outlet that publishes original, timely and useful news online only. (If someone has an objection to this, please speak up.)

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’m in the same boat you are, thoughts wise. It’s not the writing that will meet its demise, it’s the medium. And that’s not so bad, though I would hate to see thousands of printing press workers lose their jobs. It’s just that there’s a lot of frustration in the air because these people who were supposed to know what they were doing have no clue – and it’s the regular people, the writers, editors, photographers, etc. who are suffering because while print is fading, online can’t grow rapidly enough to accommodate all the writers and editors who need jobs.

    • mac-phisto says:

      recently i “volunteered” (read “was delegated”) to head up the marketing committee for my employer. here’s the problem as i see it: online advertising for newspapers (at least the ones in my market) is INSANELY expensive (imo) for what i’m getting. the fact is, local newspaper sites rarely maintain the “stickiness” that other sites have (like msn, yahoo, f/b, etc.) & yet they want to charge premium pricing for their adspace. i can get better pricing thru these main sites that reach a wider readership base. i think a large part of that is advertising departments thinking in a “paper” world.

  8. Aresef says:

    I’m a journalism major. I just love to write. If I have to do some street busking for it, that’s cool with me.

  9. dolemite says:

    How about …people donate and get to print their own stories/articles, so things they care about are in the news? They could be fiction/non-fiction, humanitarian, just an article about someone’s grandpa or something.

  10. dorianh49 says:

    Donate to the Miami Herald? Maybe if Dave Barry was still writing his column.

  11. kitchma says:

    I would be willing to pay if they would get out of the “activist” business and got into the “news” business.

    Plenty of people/groups will give me their opinions for free. I’m not going to pay my local newspaper for theirs.

  12. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Actually newspapers should put up big paid firewalls and block off all the free traffic they get. The free traffic they get has a monetary value of ZERO but it still costs them quite a bit to support it. The newspapers readership will shrink but it can provide that readership quality news, great offers, and other content that nobody else can get anywhere. It should also have a single subscribership which covers both the print version and the online version. Most big city newspapers are the only cohesive source in their town for good local news. You can get national news anywhere. You can get weather, sports scores, horoscopes anywhere. But you can’t get most good local news anywhere but the local newspaper. Blogs and Twitter isn’t going to cut it.

    • tbax929 says:

      Are you saying you would have to subscribe to the print version in order to have access to the online version? That’s not really practical for people who’ve left their hometowns and still want access to hometown news.

    • Tim says:

      I would foresee a problem with subscribers copying the content and reposting it somewhere for free.

      You also generally have the problem of people reposting information from news sites into blogs and such (ahem). It makes it so that people don’t have to go to the site or, if it’s a paid-content site, people don’t have to pay for it. Worst part is that it’s legal (you can’t copyright information and it’s fair use to copy small parts anyway), and it’d be a dangerous precedent to make it illegal.

  13. Jakooboo likes dolphins. says:

    Have Dave Barry whore them out. He’ll solicit more money than a meh newspaper ever will.

  14. The Cheat says:

    I work at the “other” South Florida paper and let me tell you how watching the extremely slow-motion crashing and burning of these two papers sucks. Picking up the newspaper now is a joke, they’ve fired a ton of talented people so you end up holding a bunch of reprinted stories and a shedload of ads.

  15. guspaz says:

    Wait, a for-profit business is asking me to donate money to them? Has the quality of service that businesses provide fallen so low that they now expect consumers to give them money for *nothing*?

    If your business model is failing, don’t try to fleece the public for “donations”, fix your business model or gracefully exit the scene.

    • RandomHookup says:

      There’s actually a big movement discussing if newspapers should become nonprofits. We still need people to report the news for real money (some stories just won’t happen if it’s a blogger and his limited sources). I’d hate to see the loss of the big city local paper with a deep knowledge of the city and it’s inner workings.

      • The Cheat says:

        Agreed, something has to be done to keep newspapers reporting the news. It’s pretty ignorant for people to say that they can just google whatever news they want when Google picks up newspaper and wire stories.

      • RandomHookup says:

        30 self-administered lashes for using “it’s” when I meant “its”.

  16. jessiesgirl says:

    Unfreakinbelievable. I spent 10 years at the Herald and even back then it was dying a slow, painful death. Might as well shut down the presses right now… it’s over. Jim and John Knight are spinning in their graves.

  17. H3ion says:

    This and the article on YouTube are two sides of the same coin. Eventually, everyone is going to charge for content and the question will be whether enough subscribers are willing to pay to maintain that model. The alternative is advertising-based sites and there may not be enough advertisers to maintain all the sites that are now free.

    Of course the fact that newspapers nationally are losing circulation tells you something. It’s probably not a direct cause and effect between the paper newspaper and the online edition but I’m sure that’s partly to blame.

  18. dg says:

    I’ll donate $0.00 I’m not ever going to pay for online news. Forget it. Get your money by having unobtrusive advertisements on the edges of the story. Get in my face, and I’m leaving. The “advertising” schennagins that the newspapers played got me to stop subscribing or even purchasing the paper. Too many ads, stories split in the middle by ads, entire pages where it’s 75% advertisement, 25% story.

    Stories that are unoriginal rehashes of the AP wire story. Come on, do something worth reading – investigate something. Actually bring something worthwhile to the attention of the Populace rather than writing about a bunch of useless celebrity-took-out-the-dog story…

    Walter K., Fahey Flynn, Walter Jacobson – where are you when we need you guys?