From the publisher

Rifanburg: As reader habits shift, so must our business

2012-11-11T03:00:00Z 2012-11-11T08:27:54Z Rifanburg: As reader habits shift, so must our businessMichael Rifanburg Auburn Citizen
November 11, 2012 3:00 am  • 

We are in the midst of a major shift in how many of us access news, information and advertising. Much like the introduction of radio, and then television, the digital age has changed how and when we access information. The Citizen has certainly had to change with the times and embrace new technology to deliver the best news and advertising package in our market to our customers.

Among our print, web and mobile products, our combined readership is larger than it’s ever been. As we continue to add value to and develop our digital offerings for personal computers, mobile phones, tablets and other devices, the time has come for us to join the growing list of daily newspapers that have introduced a subscription plan for our digital customers.

About 300 daily newspapers across the country are now charging for digital content. Those include some of our neighboring daily newspapers in Geneva, Ithaca and Rochester.

Starting Tuesday, Nov. 13, we will introduce a metered system for delivery of our digital content at Some readers won’t notice a difference, as they will be able to view up to seven pages of premium content free during any 30-day period. Readers who run out of free pages will be then asked to subscribe for a small price.

Online readers who have a print subscription will receive a deep discount on their digital subscription. For full access it will cost $3 for a 30-day period. Non-print subscribers can purchase full access for $10 for a 30-day period. An introductory annual digital subscription will be available during the next 90 days for $99 a year; that will go up to $110 a year for those who sign up after that.

Many information categories on the website will be free and not count toward the seven-page limit. The free categories include the home page, photo galleries, videos, classifieds, all advertisements, Get-it! Marketplace, Today’s Deal and search results.

The metered system works this way: A reader who clicks on an article registers one page view. If the reader then clicks to read comments that accompany that story, they log another page view. This reader will register two page views – one for the story, one for the string of comments.

Online readers will receive a “welcome to our site” message and two subscription invitations as they approach the page-view threshold.

Charging to view our online content recognizes the investment we’re making to bring news and advertising to readers in the format they prefer – be it newsprint, your computer, you mobile phone or other portable devices.

For full access to the news on, call our Circulation Department at (315) 253-3700.

Thank you for helping The Citizen grow with the community over the past 196 years. We take our role as the areas dominant information provider seriously and will continue our investment in meeting the needs of our customers.

Copyright 2015 Auburn Citizen. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. TellYouWhat
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    TellYouWhat - November 14, 2012 11:00 am
    I Guess Freedom of Speech, Is Not so FREE Anymore....

    It's too bad that the Marketing Geniuses at couldn't use their creativity to come up with other ways to monetize this web site.

    Just want to give you an example of why FREE works...

    Remember Ladies Night at the bars?
    Yes, Ladies get in FREE because Men come to the bar, and Men buy drinks, lots of drinks for the Ladies.
    Why should stay free? Simple, because MORE people will continue to use it, and MORE people will read the Ads that businesses are buying.
    Economics 101- If you reduce the demand, the supply reduces...
    Why, if you are trying to increae your profits, would you take readers away?
    Not only are you losing readers, you will also lose advertisers, because who is going to advertise on your website, if you have no readers?

    This is just a cop-out from you guys at the Citizen. You're taking the easy way out !

    And It WIll Fail!

  2. desertrat
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    desertrat - November 13, 2012 6:14 pm
    Farmer's Gal, I really enjoy your comments. They're well-expressed, often insightful, full of common sense, and free of snarkiness and typos! The NY Times allows just 10 free articles a month; three more than the Citizen will offer, but consider the difference in the amount of content. I hope you can find a way to continue to contribute to the Comments section. Actually, I think the Citizen should bring you on as a columnist. I make it a point to read your postings, and rarely read anything by the staff columnists.
  3. liberal karl
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    liberal karl - November 13, 2012 10:20 am
    WHAT are ya all bitchin' about?! If it weren't for the internet, you'd be buying copy of the paper. Only there, you'd have to write an actual letter--AND SIGN YOUR NAME TO IT--for the privilege of bitchin'!

    Welcome to the reality of life with the internet. Hey, how'd you like to be in MY shoes and see your work and artistry blatantly STOLEN from you, and watch your livelihood and income directly impacted by the freeloaders who take it for grantd that everything no the interne is "free"?

    Like it or not, bills have to be paid. If the Citizen, being a small-town paper--DIDN'T institue these inevitable changes, thenext thing you know is that people in the office are going to be losing their jobs, and then people would be bitching about them being on the public dole.

    Get real. This is life with the internet. I'm only surprised that it took so long.
  4. movedsouth
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    movedsouth - November 13, 2012 9:48 am
    I can't see that it's going to be worth paying or even checking in. To post a comment and see it listed 12 hrs +/- does not encourage one to post or check in. It's too bad, Obits would be nice to keep, but I don't see that happening, many bought the paper JUST for the obits. It will be a loss to the community, as there were many great ideas posted here. Enjoy.
  5. patchwork
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    patchwork - November 13, 2012 9:23 am
    I have now decided not to pay the fee and this may be my last comment, unless I can post under the new rules. Like I've stated there are alternatives that, as of now, are still free. To those who I have questioned or criticized, you all get a probably well deserved break. Best of Luck to all.
  6. Oa
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    Oa - November 13, 2012 3:30 am
    One small request.. Have a heart.. Keep the obits free.
  7. BlackCar
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    BlackCar - November 12, 2012 8:45 pm
    I want the Citizen to know that in spite of the obvious preference I have for free news, I support this move. Weeks back, I bought online ads through an ad syndicate and paid something like 45 dollars for about 6000 pageviews. I can't imagine the Citizen does more than 20 thousand or 30000 pageviews in a month. I just can't see how in the world you could make money selling advertising at that rate.
    I know newspapers are dying at a huge rate, and I see most of the people here don't support your move. Most of them seem to say it will fail. To tell the truth I think there is a really good chance it will fail, but if you are anything like me, I say "go down swinging!".
    I don't really think we can depend on the Huffington Post or CNN to tell us about our towns. I suggest everyone who cares about their community read this from my FAVORITE newspaper:
  8. old enough to know
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    old enough to know - November 12, 2012 7:55 pm
    To add to my other thought-I think that a person who has a subscription with your paper should be able to use the normal web site without cost.
  9. Farmer's Gal
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    Farmer's Gal - November 12, 2012 6:13 pm
    i.e. right before the holidays was a particularly bad time to institute this change.
  10. Farmer's Gal
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    Farmer's Gal - November 12, 2012 6:12 pm
    old enough -- yes, and most of us remember when the reason you paid for cable TV was so you didn't have to see the ads. Now we pay for TV AND have to watch bajillions of stupid ads as well. So much for that logic.

    7 pages a MONTH is not very much. The New York Times allows 20 a day, I believe -- a lot more than 7 a month anyway. I'll hope they post enough in the headlines to know what's going on or it won't even be worth a quick peek -- it's going to be a while before I can afford a new bill, as I have a family financial crunch AND the holidays AND paying off the kid's co-signed loans all at once.

    I'll miss you guys -- you know who you are. Can't really waste one of my scarce few views of the news reading posts. :-(

  11. old enough to know
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    old enough to know - November 12, 2012 2:38 pm
    Ley me get this straight-The Citizen wants me to pay to look at their website even though they have people paying to put ads on the website to get me to go to their business and buy things. What a joke-if I were an advertiser I would pull my ad and put it in the pennysaver. Another thing I see very little being said about the price of the Sunday paper going up fifty cents-thats higher than The Post-Standard. This paper has about a year-two at most before somebody else jumps in.
  12. Robert Harding Staff
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    Robert Harding - November 12, 2012 10:20 am
    Good morning. This is Robert Harding, The Citizen's online producer.

    I wanted to response to Farmer's Gal comment. The appearance and layout of the website will not be changing. It will remain the same. This isn't the same as the e-edition, which is a digital replica of the print edition. The website won't be changed. The only difference is that a subscription will be required to read more than seven articles per month.

    If you have any questions, let us know. We're happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
  13. patchwork
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    patchwork - November 12, 2012 7:49 am
    Clearly when the changes are made, readership and hits to the site will slip. I guess maybe one could justify $10 a month for a newspaper with well researched reports and true investigative reporting. Maybe it would be worth it if the editorial board wasn't all over the place with their opinions and recomendations on voting, not to mention a couple of columnists who appear to be using the paper for political gain. The changes that this newspaper have to make actually may have little to do with internet access, but more with redefining their mission as a single hometown newspaper. Cosumers do still have choices with using that often reports local and national breaking news faster and has a user friendly forum where comments are posted immediately instead of the practice of this newspaper to sometimes wait 12 or 14 hours. Like many others, I haven't decided whether to pay the fee when other options may be better.
  14. Farmer's Gal
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    Farmer's Gal - November 12, 2012 7:13 am
    We all know what happens next -- a large number of people who read the paper online for free wil not want to pay for the news, which we all feel we should be able to get for free. Then we will lose the small local reporting and all get the same few homgenized national and international news outlets and be even less informed than before.

    What I want to know is this -- is the pay version just like the free version is now, or is it that god-awful and impossible to navigate pay-version already available? I've had free trial access to that a couple times and I can't search and find things, I can't navigate to the pages I want, I can't get half the stuff to open to read it -- I wouldn't read the paper in that format if someone paid ME to do it. If that's what's going to be available, count me among those no longer reading The Citizen.

  15. Oa
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    Oa - November 12, 2012 2:55 am
    Bad idea. Readership will drop like a rock.
  16. desertrat
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    desertrat - November 11, 2012 9:52 pm
    We're used to getting things online for free. But a business needs a revenue stream. Also, ad rates are determined by the number of subscribers, so that's another reason to put a price tag on online use. I will pay for an online subscription. It's worth it. And I thank the Citizen for allowing free access up to now.
  17. Dan W
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    Dan W - November 11, 2012 5:58 pm
    With all the ads on the Citizens website. I would think that they would pay the bills to cover the expenses of having some news online? The whole paper is not on line now unless you pay for it. If this area had a newspaper with REPORTERS. That would keep the polictions more honest. The Citizen just has local stories how great MFT is etc. I dropped home delivery a long time ago. I'm dumping the Post Standard when they move to delivery 3 days a week. Then have to read the whole paper online the other 4 days.
  18. Pat
    Report Abuse
    Pat - November 11, 2012 9:37 am
    How sad. Anyone could see it coming, but how sad.
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