So, if its not about the money….?

From Jay Rosen, we learn that the decision on whether or not the N&R will end link-rot as we know it is still up in the air.  Rosen quotes N&R’s John Robinson on the matter, “We have not made a decision, and, unfortunately, it’s not a decision I control.”  It is easy to discern from those few words that Robinson really likes the Kool-Aid he has been gulping.  It’s also obvious that he needs to send a few gallons of the drink up to Norfolk.

Link-rot, for you who don’t know, is caused when a newspaper or other print medium initially makes content available for free but then, after a week or so, places that same content behind a pay-to-view mechanism.  Example: Back in March, I commented on a N&R article pertaining to Project Homestead’s woes, the article I linked to is now behind their pay-to-read wall here, so, in blogging parlance, the link has ‘rotted-away’.

Landmark’s apparent hesitance is puzzling, especially in light of the fact that several year’s worth of N&R content is currently available for free to anyone who has a Greensboro library card.  As I pointed out last May, NC Live provides a free archive of most every story the N&R has published for the last ten years or so.  The only shortcoming of NC Live is that I can’t link directly to a particular item in the archives unless the reader has the current password for the site – but the information is there for the taking – for free and without charge.  So that tells me its not about the money for Landmark.

Some time ago, a close reader of this blog went through the NC Live archives and pulled out every available N&R article that mentioned my name and emailed them to me – there were twelve at that time.  I saved them in my weblog’s “stories” feature.  Here’s an example of one from 1997 (and a funny one too).  (UpdateOut of respect for my paper’s copy rights, I killed the link to that article, a legal copy of which resides on my website’s server.)

Now, by posting the above link, I have probably violated the N&R’s copyrights and will most likely get a call from their legal department soon to pull it (my # is 273-2384), but what’s the point?  Is the point that I didn’t pay for it?  Can’t be that because I was never asked to.  I could provide you with my NC Live password and you could go directly to the article and you wouldn’t have to pay for it either.  Why would anyone actually pay to get something that is offered for free

I, for one, have never and will never pay for an online N&R article and I know of no one else who has ever done so either.  But, through people who Google for information and find a post on my weblog that references an expired N&R article, I send them new online readers almost every day.  Their current archiving policy just sneers at the potential advertising consumers I generate for them.    It’s all very frustrating and confusing. 

Get with the program Landmark.  You can’t lose money you don’t have.

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