Back in August, I had a post about the Boston Globe planning to charge for online content sometime in the near future.

It looks like the Boston Herald has similar plans.

Purcell: Herald, other papers will soon charge for online content

Earlier this decade, the Herald had a policy where access to columnists and feature writers was the only content that you had to pay for. It didn’t work. As Herald owner and publisher Pat Purcell acknowledges in that article, the paper received many complaints about that policy.   If they put all their content (including sports coverage) under paid subscriptions, I think that sports fans are simply going to go elsewhere for their sports information.

Sites like, and will see their numbers jump up should the Globe and Herald go the pay route.

Purcell disagrees: “There are people who really love the Herald and will pay for it, the way they pay for cable and satellite radio.”

Would you pay to read the Herald online?


37 thoughts on “Purcell: Herald To Charge For Online Content

  1. PP is dreaming. Very few people will pay to read the Herald online. Given the growth and the new columnists at the three sites you mentioned, I doubt many people will even miss not having access to


  2. I’m finding it very hard to respond to the question of whether I’d pay to read the Herald online as it’s difficult to type and see the screen through my tears of laughter.

    Are you [naughty word] kidding me?!?!!? Yeah, sure Pat. People really want to be charged to read the keen observations and pithy commentary of Steve Buckley et al.


    1. Amen. The same goes for the Globe. Love the Buckley reference. The lamest of the lame. Years ago, a caller to ‘EEI called him “Bucket Head”. Perhaps, the most accurate remark in the history of Boston sports radio.


  3. No. Their website sucks balls. Tons of empty space, impossible to find things, and the most annoying part is articles on two pages when the second page has the last sentence of the article.


    1. Huge pet peeve of mine as well, last sentence on the second page just to get that extra click/ad impression. So annoying.


  4. I won’t pay for anything that supports Gerry Callahan’s salary. There are plenty of other media sources that are far superior to the Herald.


  5. I won’t be able to read the inside gunts and Howie’s next gamebreaking column on hacks?



    1. Now that the “Track Gals” are on TV38 after the Phantom Gourmet, and Ernie Boch advertises on both crappy shows, I have no reason to buy the Herald content, either on line or print. All their slop can be viewed for free on TV while I lay on the couch each Saturday morning.


      1. Good point as always my man. The Track Gals are ethical and attractive. As are the Phantom Gourmet guys. They do such a hilarious radio show in that coveted 4-7pm saturday time slot.


  6. Newspapers just don’t get it. Nobody is going to pay for their content. Nobody. If I want actual news, I’ll go to CNN, yahoo, MSN, NYTIMES, etc ect. If I want sports, ESPN or any hundreds of other sites. It’s like if there’s a lemonade stand down the street charging $0.25 for a cup of lemonade, but if I walk 100 more feet, there’s another stand charging nothing for Lemonade and they have free iced tea. Which would you pick?


  7. I don’t read it for free. I certainly won’t pay.

    Wouldn’t pay for the Globe either now that Reiss has left.


  8. No chance. Nothing against the Herald or it’s writers….but who in their right mind would pay for it with so many free options available. Let the advertisers pay.


  9. Question 1 – why would i pay for something if i can get it somewhere else for free?

    Question 2 – why would i pay for something if i can get a BETTER product somewhere else for free?

    Answer for both is – i wont.

    PP tries to deflect the question 1 by saying people will pay for cable, etc. so that’s why they’ll pay for access to the herald. Why do they pay for cable? The competition for cable is over the air broadcast which is typ at a lower quality. So yes, people will pay for higher quality.

    PP ignores the other part because he obviously thinks that the heralds quality is the same or better than the other online sources. It ain’t.

    So again, why would i pay for online access to the Globe or Herald when I can get comparable or typ better content somewhere else for free? The answer is i wont.


  10. The only sliver of a chance for newspapers to get people to pay for online content is if that content has a unique and interesting perspective. To that, I would add a POSITIVE perspective….not fawning or unchallenging, but also not unnecessarily negative or “Hey, look at me!” idiotic. Ask yourself this: would you pay to read columns from Borges, Tomase, Massarotti, or Shaughnessy (maybe Felger in this group too)? Now ask yourself: would you pay to read Ryan, Reiss, or Breer? As consumers, we dont really want to search out the “Look at me!” types when we have positive alternatives; we might read them if they happen to be available and we can thumb our noses at them for their idiocy. Since the Tomase Implosion, the Herald’s credibility as a sports outlet has bottomed out and will never recover. Pay for it?


  11. Let me get this straight:

    People wouldn’t pay for the unique content (columnists, etc.) when the Herald tried to charge for it, so they’ll pay to get the game write-ups and notes columns they could find elsewhere on the internet? Huh?

    The reason, and now the only reason, I pay for a physical paper is to have the experience of holding it open and reading it. That’s it.

    Why would anyone pay for something they can pick up off the floor of any T train?

    It’ll be sad to see the Herald close in the near future.


  12. no way in hell would I pay for Herald OR Globe online content….to tell ya the truth I don’t really go to those sites that much now when it’s FREE….I don’t think you’ll be missing much….Shaugnessy?…Borges?….I don’t read them now and Bob Ryan has lost his fastball ….just look at the last line of his column today about the Patriots game>>>>>>

    “This was great. This was fun. This was history. But was it meaningful?”

    ahhhh….yeah Ryan, it was “meaningful” it put them at 4-2 instead of 3-3….UGH….that’s the kind of crap I expect from Shank or Borges or Felger


  13. How long are these people going to squeeze blood from a stone?
    In what universe are they traveling? Why are they unable to see the forest for the trees? Psst, that fish wrap is too expensive!!!
    Ever hear of the Boston Traveler or the Boston Herald American Record? Or the Phoenix? Or whatever the hell those dinosaurs were called!
    Anyone seen them around recently? All these writers are blogged out
    anyways. There’s an interesting concept that’s been floating around
    in the past couple of years – it’s call a “free internet”


  14. No way will I pay for the Herald or the Globe. Bruce is absolutely right. I’ll just go espn boston, weei, csnne, projo, etc. Hell, I’ll even go to (98.5). It’s such a dumb idea given that there are other outlets for the consumer; and, not that it’s going to be a lot of money, but is the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the appropriate time to announce you’ll now charge the public for something that’s been free for years?


  15. No one is going to pay for online content from the Herald, or the Globe, or the ProJo, or the NY Times, or the Washington Post, or any other paper you can name except the Wall Street Journal which has always charged. The others let that horse out of the barn 15 years ago when they started putting content online for free. They created the business model & now they’ve got to make it work or die.


  16. It might be an interesting exercise if the Pride of Epping were to take a look at the genesis of sports stories as part of this media watch. How much originates with the dailies? To what extent to other ‘new media’ outlets break stories that become major stories?

    To what extent do The Globe and the Herald drive the sports discussion. Is it more or less than it was, say five years ago. How much of, or based on original material and how much of it is based on running with the agenda set by the dailies? How much of the Web sites is reflections on what has happened and how much is original reporting?

    I don’t know. Maybe it would make a good senior thesis for someone at BU SPC or Emerson. It would require some sort of standards for defining what is news, what is breaking news, what is reaction to news and what is pure bloviating, but this may be an area in which serious study of the impact, or lack of impact, of the Web on public discourse is in order. The passion with which we view sports put sports on the cutting edge of the use of new media; a serious study of its impact based on quantifiable variables might provide an insight into the future of new media vs. what is derided as the old media (but which, I suggest, is still the best, most efficient and most reliable way of disseminating news that has ever been invented. Prove me wrong if you can)


    1. In case we needed any more proof to add to the mountain of evidence that Objective Bruce either works or worked for the Globe, now, all of a sudden OB lumps in with WEEI, coincidentally right after raided half the Globe’s staff, even though he never put them on his “bad” list before.


    2. There is no better way to put insufferable print media hacks in their place than to show them plummeting readership numbers once a paid-for model is implemented. If this ‘sure-thing’ didn’t bear fruit when people had disposable income, it sure won’t now.


  17. absolutely no way no how am i paying for stuff i can get for free anywhere on the net obviously newspapers are getting desperate as their best talent is flying the coop for greener pastures kick rocks herald nice readin ya


  18. One point Purcell does not address is this: does he plan on charging consumers money for the same hopelessly clutter website at is the current The one with the electronic equivalent of Penny Saver ads crammed into every page and the actual content type squeezed so small that it’s a headache to read it? Because what he’s putting online now is basically snippets of his stories surrounded by much more advertising than the prin version can attract. That advertising draws income based on the number of hits and clicks (hence the phantom last line trick), but who would pay to be aggravated in such a way?

    The “TV” and satellite radio analogies are specious. With the switch to digital, virtual all TV id “pay” tv because you need to have a cable provider (or a pricy workaround) to watch anything. The “free”vs “pay” TV option no longer exists. So, yes, you can show the figures that “pay” tv audiences are grown, but that’s because there are no viable alternatives. Regarding sat. radio, it seems very popular with this Board, but I believe that is a small and skewed sample. XM and Sirius have already realized that they have to merge to survive, and my cursory following of the business indicates it’s either stagnant or losing subscribers, even as they offer a good selection of unique programming.

    So, I don’t think we need to do a Harvard Business School study to learn that this is a desperate and terrible idea. The best thing Purcell can do for his business is to hold an open meeting with his braintrust and ask each one what he thinks of this move. That way, he’ll have a clear idea who to fire next spring.


  19. a globe subscription might be worthwhile if they bundled online content with a copy of the sunday/weekend paper, got rid of dead wood like shaughnessey and almost all the oped writers in sports and elsewhere as there is no need for glorified blogs like shaughnessy’s column. they must also devote most of their revenue to serious journalism and good to great writing. only then will they attract readers, subscribers, and advertisers.

    not sure why they haven’t gotten the clue that news, journalism, and what amounted to community service through notifications of events is what made them great and not blithering idiots like dan shaughnessy, jeff jacoby, and mike cullen.

    for the price of a globe subscription i can get 10 magazine subscriptions offering me a hard copy and online content all of which are better than what the globe turns out month to month.

    a hybrid online/hardcopy subscription model makes sense.


  20. This is no different than airline fare wars: No one does it unless they all do it. The dilemma is ad rates. What can they charge given the FACT that readership and clicks will plummet? And will people still be bludgeoned by click ads after paying for their on-line access? That’s a sure way to ensure failure.


  21. Here’s the killer app for newspaper publishers: how many of your well-paid and highly promoted columnists — as opposed to dogged daily reports — will people pay to read?

    Over the past 20 years, I believe, one of the insidious trends in the newspaper business has been to try to be more like magazines. That is, “star” bylines sell papers, not news.

    Fine for New York, The New Yorker or even Vanity Fair, but not for a daily newspaper. Its purpose is to provide news and a context to consider that news.

    The Globe, in particular its sports section, seems to feel otherwise. Red Sox win the Championship? Clearly the region needs to know what Dan Shaughnessey thinks. That’s why his column, with large type headline and facial graphic, dominates the front page. Not the front page of Sports, but the front page.

    Well, here’s an excellent time to test that business theory. Put it all online on a pay-by-view basis. People thirst to know how Ron Borges rates the Pats on his report card? Charge ’em all a dime to read it and see how much rolls in. The Globe thinks that people are dying to read Shank’s reminiscence of the ’89 Series just as the 2009 Championship Series gets underway? Let them send 15 cents via PayPal to back up the bravest columnist! I’m tempted to shell out the nickel and dime myself to know how badly the earthquake disrupted Dan’s room service!

    My point is that people still value legitimate news reporting; I doubt that they value the internally promoted “star columnists.” But I could be wrong. Let the market decide!


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