New York University journalism guru and pressthink.org creator Jay Rosen has a similar prognosis. The lesson from The New York Times — which he once described as “the big experiment of 2011”— is that “there is a new revenue stream there, [but] it doesn’t solve the problem or change the game,” he says. Sure, the Times has reportedly netted the $100 million since adopting their meter, but for a much smaller-paper like the Journal, Rosen says, life in a post-meter world will look a lot like life before.
We’ll have to wait to analyze the effect of the meter on the Journal’s tumbling circulation numbers and ad sales. But it’s tough not to root for the paper as it enters this new stage. In preparation for the meter’s arrival, they’ve spruced up their website with bigger pictures, brighter colors, prominent links to social media sites, various multi-media “modules,” and, most importantly, the return of full-length articles. (Strangely, blogs have all but disappeared from their homepage amidst this progress.) Now, readers are no longer flung off of a 125-word cliff into a pit of teeth-gnashing commenters, which, for a while, had become the defining experience of providencejournal.com.
And from what we hear, the changes are more than superficial. Reporters at Fountain Street HQ tell us that new leadership has proactively sought their input in steering the paper. This seems logical — why wouldn’t you go to reporters for ideas? — but, apparently, it wasn’t the way things used to work. Perhaps now is a good a time, then, to suggest the paper’s next big project. Can they find a way to un-erase the thousands of archived articles lost during their previous web makeover? Not only would this establish the website as the rich, unrivaled public historical resource that it can and should be (history teachers across the state would love them), but it would allow Journal reporters to once again Google their own names and find something other than 125-word article stubs. As it stands now, years of their work have simply disappeared from digital existence.