Apparently that's not the case anymore.
It was LIGHT FOR ALL for a long, long time. Here's an opening title card from a 1920's era educational film produced by the A. S. Abell Company called, Seeing the Sun. The Baltimore Sun had spunk in those days. And, imagination. And, The Sun made money, launched careers, made some employees famous, made other contributors icons. For itself, The Sun created income, and tax deductions in innovative ways. The Baltimore Sun made its place in the world of journalism.
The Baltimore Sun has revised its vignette 14 times or more over its 174-year history, but LIGHT FOR ALL has been the long-time common denominator.
The Baltimore Sun's pay wall just went into effect, though they prefer we refer to it as a digital subscription. Perhaps their slogan should be changed as of today, October 10th 2011, to:
"LIGHT FOR ALL WHO HAVE A FEW BUCKS IN THEIR JEANS."
Yep, that seems to work. Let's just ditch the wonderful memories of all of these nameplates.
Here's the open letter from The Baltimore Sun publisher, Timothy Ryan, to The Sun's readers. I've added a few comments in red:
September 25, 2011
Letter to Our Readers:
I wanted to let you know about an important change that we will be making to The Baltimore Sun's website in the coming weeks.
That's fine, that's good. Thanks for keeping me in the loop, Sir. I feel kind of important.
On October 10, we will begin offering digital subscriptions to baltimoresun.com. Purchasing a digital subscription will allow you to view an unlimited amount of our website's articles, blogs, photos and videos. If you do not subscribe, you will have free access to 15 pages each month. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber.
As an honest, ethical Baltimore copywriter, I would have to replace the word offering with requiring. Just saying.
Oh, and another thing. I hope you don't mind me going on here, but I've noticed that a great deal of your online content comes directly from your readers. That includes, comments, photos, local blogs, facebook friends, and more. I hope I'm not over stepping my bounds here, Mr. Ryan, but a tremendous number of your page views come from your online readers' contributions and from their friends in the form of them responding to your contests like the Mobbies, Best Photo of..., Best 50 Bars, etc. I hope you see what I mean.
Tim, you and the Tribune Company have cut The Sun's brilliant creative staff year after year. You've relied more heavily each year on content that your paper doesn't have to pay for, content that your paper doesn't create.
And I'm not really being picky about your writing, but I would really change the phrase you will be asked to become a digital subscriber to something like even if you've been a heavy digital contributor to our site we are going to lock you out of the good stuff after 15 monthly hits if you don't pay us almost half as much as it costs to digitally subscribe to the New York Times.
That just seems to read a tad bit clearer to most people, seems more upfront that way, don't you think?
Since its launch in 1996, baltimoresun.com has established itself as Maryland's No. 1 local news website, drawing more readers than any other local media company. In August 2011, the website was viewed a record number of times, earning 52 million page views from 4.8 million unique users. In 2010, baltimoresun.com received a total of nearly 500 million page views, clearly demonstrating the website's ability to keep readers coming back regularly to stay informed.
Ok, I'll admit that I don't have a doctorate in metrics and ratings. I did, though, have some long-term study with the AC Nielsen Company and with Arbitron and a couple of things above confound me. I'm sorry. Never mind. I don't want to be redundant here.
Oh Tim, just one more thing. The Baltimore Sun's paywall subscription model costs about half as much as does a digital subscription to The New York Times. But... The Sun doesn't offer up a tenth (hundreth?) of the content or information that The Times does. But then again, that's comparing toadstools to truffles, if you get my meaning.
Wait a minute, I just remembered something important! I've never had to pay to access and read the digital version of the New York Times. I get digital access free as The Times and their sponsor http://www.lincoln.com consider me a frequent and valued contributor.
As digital readers, you recognize the website's value, and subscribing preserves your access to our unique, in-depth local news and information. For around 35 cents a day — even less if you also enjoy a print subscription — you can have complete access to the rich content that makes baltimoresun.com such an important news source.
Well Tim, here's a thought: Your rich content is going to become much, much poorer under this paywall model. Like... you know, when people, your unpaid contributors and your social media friends stop participating, stop sharing, stop liking and stop retweeting. When we stop filling your website with ideas, stories, concepts, and such.
We will continue to innovate in ways that provide you the news you want, the way you want it.
Yep, let me know how that goes for you, and, The Sun, and Tribune. Give Sam Zell my very best.
Timothy E. Ryan
Publisher & CEO
The Baltimore Sun Media Group
Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun
PS. Thanks for publishing my photo of VEEP filming on Charles Street this morning, online and in print. Thanks for using my website as a constant source of information. Thanks for not acknowledging, in your letter above, all of the column inches your paper has filled with the work of all your unpaid contributors.
You know Tim, I could go on here with more specifics and I intended to research my position more fully on this topic and add some balance links back to your paper.
I can't. I've used up my free 15 views.