Tulsa World Hates Their Customers

April 14, 2011 Posted by zachary

Not that I read their news much at all let alone online, the Tulsa World has decided to wage war on their readers by forcing a subscription in order to read more than 10 articles written by their staff in a 30 day period. They announced this subscription “service” (Warning: This announcement is written by a TW Staffer and if you have read more than 10 articles in the last 30 days, you cannot even read this) on March 31, 2011.

This come shortly after the New York Times announced pretty much the same thing, but they allow 20 articles a month for non subscribers.

If you do happen to open more than 10 articles you will be greeted with this popup:

Tulsa World Subscriber Popup

Now I don’t really care if they want to alienate their readers since I don’t frequent their site, but it is annoying since I follow their Twitter account and will check out an article from time to time that catches my fancy. But not any more.

What is really funny about this is it is not the greatest pay wall. Granted it is better than the NY Times paywall. That one is easily circumvented with a little Javascript. At least the Tulsa World has the sense to not have the article text on the page when you hit your limit. I had attempted to create a similar tool to remove the popup but found the text was absent even with it gone.

Yet, this is easily foiled if you happen to know your way around a proxy server. The Paywall tracks unique IP addresses and Proxy servers alter your IP address to help you remain private online.

Aside from all that, something else is even funnier. Their subscription rates are a bit odd to say the least. They are charging $15 for a 1 year digital subscription to their service. But when you look at their other pricing you will find they offer a Sunday print subscription plus the digital subscript for $12. Its cheaper to kill some trees to get the content. In fact, you would ahve to become a full print subscriber in order to out price the the one year digital service. (Found something else funny, Tulsa World uses Javascript to prevent people from copying text from their articles.)

To anyone who follows the death spasm of print media, it is obvious why they are pricing things this way. They are trying to prop up a dead business model instead of adapting to current technologies. They are losing subscribers to their print service to the convenience of reading news online. So they are trying to kill demand for online news by putting it behind a useless paywall.

Were they still making money before this paywall? Yes they were. They have advertisers on their website, but those advertisers were not bringing in as much money as the previous print subscription plus advertisers.

So in the end, I wish Tulsa World the best of luck with their paywall. I look forward to a year from now when they either close up shop or have ditched the paywall completely.

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