Expect changes to website

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

There is an ongoing, internal debate within the newspaper industry as to the future of newspapers and their companion websites.

More specifically, the debate is whether or not the publishing companies who produce them should charge readers a fee for access to the information and stories online that costs them the same amount of money and time to produce as it does in print. In other words, if we charge for the print version of the newspaper, why would we give the Internet version away for free?

In an age and time where more and more readers of newspapers are going online to do so, good business sense dictates that we shouldn’t.

We at The Tidewater News are fortunate in that, as a community newspaper, we haven’t lost our print version readers by the boatload as many metropolitan daily papers have for the last several years. In fact, the readership of our print version has remained relatively intact for quite some time.

However, like most newspapers, the readership of our online version has exploded, and has caused us to examine our business practices.

Our online readers are important to us, and their participation in our online forums has, in many ways, contributed to the increasing value of our online product.

So rather than risk driving you away by asking for payment to access the content on our website, we’re simply going to ask you to share your opinion.

In the next few days, visitors to tidewaternews.com will notice that when they click on certain stories, they will be asked to answer a brief one- or two-question survey.

The surveys, which are administered by Google and will only take a second or two to complete, will help the online giant provide marketing research to their online customers.

While it will take a little getting used to at first, there are a few important things we want our readers to know.

The questions will be short and simple, such as “what snack food do you prefer to eat while watching football, nachos or pizza?”

No one is attempting to steal your identity or gain access to any of your personal information.

By responding you will not be divulging any information that will open the floodgate to unwanted spam and solicitations.

By taking just a couple of seconds to answer a brief, one- or two-question marketing survey, access to our website will remain free.

Many other online newspapers are charging readers, and, after carefully examining the options, we have decided that we will not.

Our reason for including these online surveys is not to aggravate our readers, but to ensure that we can continue to provide our online content to you for free.

Our goal, as always, remains to be of service to our readers and our community.

If you have any questions or concerns over the new survey format, please let us know.