Charging For Public Documents?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  John Paul 6 months ago.

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  • #117109 Reply


    I have a question in regards to this site wanting to charge a price for something that is free to the public. Specifically things like 2013 controller’s audit of sheriff’s office. How much did that cost this site to get a copy of?

    #117482 Reply


    Awwwah shad up Dean. JP has to make some money somehow to pay for this revamped site… I liked the old one better, but, I don’t own this site… I really liked the Blue Steel commentary. It was very entertaining to see how stupid some people could be. It got me going to this site multiple times per day to watch the car wreck.

    #130645 Reply

    John Paul

    Dean you bring up a very valid point.

    At the end of the day, in order for me to report on the happenings in Beaver County, and to eventually hire a staff to help do the same, this site has to generate significant revenues.

    There are basically two ways to accomplish that: sell advertising and charge a subscription fee.

    I have serious issues with both of these models.

    I’ve seen first hand how public officials in Beaver Countian have pressured sponsors to cause financial hardships when a news outlet starts running something they don’t like. Of course, the things politicos don’t want you knowing about are exactly the types of things news organizations should be publishing. I don’t ever want to be in a position someday where I say to myself “I really should be writing about this, but I’ll lose a ton of cash and might have to lay people off if I do.”

    Add on top of that the minor problem of the bottom dropping out of the ad market, and you find yourself building on the foundation of a very shaky business model.

    On the other hand, charging the public for access to this site kind of defeats the purpose of what I’m doing. It limits readership and keeps information away from some of the people who need it the most. While a lot of people in the news industry don’t want to accept it, the general public at large places very little value on the work we do when it comes time to open their wallets.

    So there’s the dilemma.

    What I’ve chosen to do, is work toward a model where the general public has access to all of my completed articles free of charge. Those who want more in-depth access to information, and who value the work that I’m trying to accomplish here, can subscribe to premium features. These features will include things such as raw court filings and public reports (In-depth Look), along with insider tidbits and stories not yet ready for primetime (JP’s Notebook).

    You’ll be seeing a lot more premium features in the near future that will focus on pooling information from a broad range of sources and digesting it for easy consumption by news nerds.

    This site exists to support the community — For that continue in a sustainable way, the community has to support this site in return. That’s the nature of the news “business.”

    As always, I’m open to suggestions, ideas, and input.

    #134286 Reply


    OK so the price paid for the document was $0.00 by this site.

    I understand all too well how to generate revenue for news organizations. I would not say the bottom is out of the ad market as much as companies wanting to make sure they get their bang for the buck. That being said a blog does not seem to be a good place to spend advertising dollars in this or any economy.

    Good luck hiring a staff and my suggestion would be to hire an editor first. Better yet good luck getting people to pay for your opinion pieces. Most people that read this don’t understand that simple fact. This is not news and to say it is not one sided is false. When you have to end stories with disclaimers takes all credibility away.

    #134301 Reply

    John Paul

    One of the wonderful things about the internet is every person gets to decide for themselves which sites they visit each day, what sources of information they grow to trust, and which efforts they choose to support.

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