The biggest hesitation I had about my new job was working behind a paywall. In fact, I requested a meeting with the website’s editor during my job interview to talk about it. After a couple months working here, here’s some notes on how it’s affected my online life.
• In my previous job and at my campus paper I always wanted to help promote my reporters’ work. Call it my way of showing them I appreciate their work as much as I fantasize they do mine. Because of the paywall, I can’t link to shareworthy stories I look at during my shift. It would be a useless link for most because stories that make print edition require a subscription to read online.
Note: The paper also has some Web-only reporters who cover daily breaking news. Their content is normally free online. Some breaking wire content is also given away. Videos, blogs, graphics and the like are free because they’re considered supplemental to the print edition.
• My other issue is what I like to call “link jealousy.” Back in Lynchburg, if I saw central Virginia Twitterers linking to competitors more than us I got bit frustrated and felt like we were losing out. Now I’m in a situation where seeing links to my own company is extremely rare. It took quite some time for me to adjust to seeing rivals get all the links from the Little Rock Twitter users I follow.
• While my eye still twitches when I see rivals’ links posted more often, not being able to link to my office’s work has enticed me to read the rivals’ websites without feeling like I’m being disloyal. I imagine my old habit of refusing to look at rivals’ sites is exclusive to me, but my new situation has broken me out of it and made me more of a consumer and less of a link dumper. Reading rival content leads me to often consuming the same facts more than once and helping me get familiar with my new area quicker. Maybe soon enough I won’t have to hit up Google Maps to check every intersection or search for each North Little Rock alderman’s name every time.
• The increased consumption ties into my top advantage to my new environment: I’m more of an online listener now. Before, I was the one wanting to tell the community what links to consume. Now, I find myself the one weighing which links to look at. It makes for interesting observations from the other side of the glass. I’ve been able to spend more time reading content from Little Rock-area bloggers than I did in Lynchburg. As a result, I give more of a crap about my new online community than I did in my past (at least as far as with people I’ve met less than three times).
In conclusion, while the paywall idea is still odd to me, the lessons I can adapt to my online life are very valuable. It’s good to get in touch with and observe your consumer side.