Stan Tiner, executive editor of The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., makes no bones about the value of the online product, bragging that his paper is the top news source for his circulation area. "We probably provide 90% of the information that is consumed from this part of the world," he says, adding that print readers often ask him, "why are you giving it away on the Web?"
While specific plans are yet to be unveiled at Tiner's paper, he contends local news and in-depth reporting could prompt a pay-per-view type of charge. "I would worry a little bit about making it a complicated menu," he says. "Say if you wanted to buy any of the Sun Herald Web site, you can buy all of it or a small chunk of it." He cites an example of a big story such as a major crime or tragedy: "You could go in every day and pay, say, 50 cents [for all of the paper's content], or break it off and buy everything on [one] story for less. You could just get all of the coverage of that story."
I don't see much of a future in charging readers for web content. Papers that have started charging for web content have found the number of people who pay is pretty small.