Is the OC Register's Paywall Coming Down? Magic 8-Ball Says "Signs Point to Yes"

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It's almost the one-year anniversary of the Orange County Register erecting a paywall on its website, a paywall that owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz swore was strict, swore would never go down, swore was impenetrable--indeed, Spitz told his own paper "there will be no way to 'game' the system."

Unless, of course, the Register games the system on its own. Because the dirty little secret with the Reg's website nowadays is that it's harder to find a story behind the paywall than one that readers can view for free.

Of the 16 top stories on the Register's homepage that I checked this past Sunday afternoon (the five stories highlighted with headlines and time stamps at top, and the 11 stories highlighted in the "Local News" section), all of them were free. All. This flies in the face of Spitz last year telling his stenographer, Reg reporter Mary Ann Milbourn, in justifying the paywall, "It is unfair to our paying (print) subscribers that someone else is getting our content for free,"

Welp, I haven't subscribed in years--howdaya figure that one, Eric?

The paywall was a bit more rigid from my iPhone, but the majority of the stories nevertheless were free to read. Each story did have the tag, "Enjoy this complimentary article from the Orange County Register. For full access to our website, Please click here"--but I've been reading that tag on "complimentary" articles ever since TJ Simers started writing--and that was back in September.

So is the paywall coming down for good? Did newish editor Rob Curley--hailed for years as a digital whiz kid--finally convince Kushner and Spitz of their folly? We reached out to Curley and Kushner's Minister of Information, Eric Morgan, for comment; Morgan replied this way:

A select number of articles and columns have remained open to every site visitor since making the transition to Digital Access (subscriptions) on ocregister.com a year ago, as has local reference information such as weather and car/job/real estate listings. We continue to learn and experiment with the number, timing and type of articles we offer for free as the total amount of content we generate for our subscribers continues to grow. There are no plans to do away with digital subscriptions. Thanks.

By "select number," Morgan must mean "almost all of them; as of 7 a.m. this Tuesday morning, only two of the top 16 stories on the Reg's home page were behind the paywall. And by Morgan saying they "continue to learn and experiment with the number, timing and type of articles," he means "almost all of them."

In the meanwhile, don't feel sorry for the saps who paid for a digital subscription for the Register--they, after all, are Register readers.

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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18 comments
mikeknowles
mikeknowles

Hey Gustavo when are you go. A do a story on Antolin Brito the illegal immigrant unlicensed driver that killed his daughter in a drunk driving accident?

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

It was and is a stupid idea in the first place because they lost their readership and many people cancelled their subscriptions.

GrandInsider
GrandInsider

This change happened around the first of the year when King Kushner and his clueless minions had to have the three dozen layoffs because -- wow, we lost digital advertising money by going to the paywall?! Who knew?! To the tune of $5-$7million in losses. No wonder that Press Enterprise sale didn't close. What's behind the paywall now? Think of things you can't get anywhere else like Newport Beach city council meetings. They just didn't make the announcement because they won't admit being failures.

roman_archer
roman_archer

I noticed this a little over a week ago. I have a Lakers basketball app that compiles all articles written about the Lakers in one place. You could read all of the articles from various sources with the exception of the Registers. Click on an article from the Registers sports department and you would get the damn pay wall message. Not anymore! It's kind of funny how we like to slam the Registier, yet we all have some portion of the publication we like to read. Come on admit it!

bphood
bphood

I for one will be glad to get the reg again for free...then I can read grown up news again instead of this marxist drivel

rallenr
rallenr

I wouldn't discount the possibility of buggy software, or a quiet revolt by certain writers -- after all, if we can't see their work, then neither can their future employers (which would be helpful come the next series of layoffs).

Brennan King Cane
Brennan King Cane

Yep, I noticed that after their latest revamp and, like the swallows, I have returned to checking it every day or so.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

But you know, my life has been so much brighter without Fast Food Maven in it


JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

"In the meanwhile, don't feel sorry for the saps who paid for a digital subscription for the Register--they, after all, are Register readers."

LOL

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

This is bad news. It was preferable to have the OC Register commenters behind the paywall so as not to soil the internet with more racist hate.

Aaron Kushner build up that wall!

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

Yep, I've noticed that too. Most stories are free now and the ones that are not free, provide 69% of the story before pointing you to a place to pay to read the rest.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@roman_archer  

For me, just Brad A. Johnson's fine work.  

Otherwise, I am attracted to the Register in the same way I am to the sight of a horrific car accident 

 

BobLoblawsLawBlog
BobLoblawsLawBlog

Isn't free just another word for ....SOCIALISM?!?!?! Commie scum.

roman_archer
roman_archer

@bphood So, what I get from your post is that you are only willing to read publications that are free, whether they be grown up news or Marxist drivel. At the very least you just outed yourself as a cheapskate. And that's at the very least.

changoland
changoland

@JBinOC @roman_archer I was just thinking before I manually typed in ocweekly.com "Wow, I don't even miss the content from ocregister.com"  Truthfully, the last (and only) time I've ever read a free article on there was for the article and pictures of the recent horrific car accident on the 60 freeway.

Its no loss.



JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@changoland @JBinOC@roman_archer 

Maybe they should sell subscriptions once the bloody wreck of too much debt and laughable, "sponsored," and thoroughly un-compelling content finally comes to crashing halt. 


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