Home / Live Wire / Pay-per-view: Express on the ledge; Mr Live Wire tries to talk newspaper down

Pay-per-view: Express on the ledge; Mr Live Wire tries to talk newspaper down

Paging Minister of the People and Social Development Christine Newallo-Hosein to the Brian Lara Promenade!

The Trinidad Express Newspaper climbed on a ledge in downtown Port of Spain this morning and threatened to jump back into the next millennium. And, bizarrely, it asked its readers to join in.

On page three of today’s print version of the Sunday Express, the country’s most read news source posted a “Notice to our loyal readers” which informed them that: “with effect from tomorrow the price of all our publications will be increased by $1.”

Photo: Former Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs. (Courtesy Stabroek News)
Photo: Former Trinidad Express reporter Anika Gumbs.
(Courtesy Stabroek News)

Does that mean departed journalist-cum-honey pot Anika Gumbs was subsidising the newspaper? Or is it that the relatively tame pace of the 2015 General Election campaign is affecting the company directors’ Christmas plans?

Express also had a message for its local online readers. It said: “—.”

That’s right. There was not a word to well over a hundred thousand online readers who made Express the number one online news site in the country. Only a paywall.

But Mr Live Wire is sure that somewhere on the company’s website is an encrypted message that reads: “Go £@*& yourself!”

It might be the most controversial split since DJ Lurbz and his mistress decided that they should probably call time on their home-made movie career—several months into her marriage to Minister Two Pull.

And surely it is the most nerve-wracking suicide scene since actress Marion Cotillard (Mal) ignored Leonardo Di Caprio (Dom Cobb) in “Inception” and tried to jump into an alternative reality.

Photo: Don't do it, Mal... Trinis will never subscribe!
Photo: Don’t do it, Mal… Trinis will never subscribe!

Express explained its decision to hide online content behind a paywall.

“It is important that we make the necessary investments in talent and technology on an ongoing basis,” stated the daily newspaper.

It was a revealing insight into the thinking of the country’s largest media consortium.

The Express is explaining to its print readers why they should pay more to subsidise an online product that most will no longer read. The company, as a strategy, is literally shaking down its base of paying customers—between 40,000 to 70,000 of them—to improve its ability to not serve its largest audience.

Pay-per-view? Really? After that Floyd “Money” Mayweather fiasco?

Even Rodney Charles would probably think that strategy was nuts.

You see Express’ daily print readership is 70,000 at its absolute peak. But the internet market penetration online is at least 500,000 within Trinidad and Tobago’s boundaries alone. And the Express is number one online.

So what the Trinidad Express is really facing is not a cash deficit. It is a shortage of ideas regarding how to turn a great strength—a large online audience—into revenue.

Photo: Don't jump! We need you!
Photo: Don’t jump! We need you!

Instead of a more forward-thinking approach, Mr Live Wire was stunned to see CCN CEO Shida Bolai—with the presumed backing of OCM managing director Dawn Thomas—emerge on a ledge at Express House with dozens of mortified reporters and columnists.

“Don’t jump, Shida! At least let Sunity Maharaj’s columns go as a sign of good faith!”

Somewhere in Siparia, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar probably read the newspaper and then fired off a text to Oropouche East MP Roodal Moonilal:

“Guess we won’t need that Defamation and Libel Act after all. LOLZ!”


About Mr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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  1. I just subscribed to a paywalled publication which I thought I would never do. I follow the online magazine Slate and, having got me thoroughly hooked with excellent content they gradually introduced a paywall for extra content (Slate Plus) where you got bonus features, early access to columns etc. and they offered a month free. I still didn´t bite, but then they introduced a paywall for overseas readers (not US-based) which cost $50 a year and gives you access to all content (Slate Plus). I signed up because it is an excellent news magazine, I appreciate that journalists need to get paid and because their gradual approach was both respectful to the reader and sound marketing strategy. What the Express has done is the polar opposite.

  2. So lets look at what went on with newspapers in the USA and Europe and how the internet destroyed those who could not adapt.

    New media runs on advertisements. The money you pay for paper is so small. The internet came and newspapers could not figure how to get people to pay for content. Money from internet ads could not generate enough compared to printed media. We turned to a world of bloggers and journalism started to die. People cared less for articles and just wanted news as it happened.

    What was the point of buying a newspaper (or waiting for 6pm network) that had day-old news vs just checking a blog or social media seconds after it happened? See the newspapers had forgotten their key asset: real articles, opinionated pieces, in-depth stories, follow-up reporting.

    For people to be willing to PAY for something, you need to have CONTENT. News is not content. Only true journalism provides content. When there is A-class content, people are willing to pay and sponsors are willing to support.

    The newspapers and magazines that survive now have some tiered pay-scheme. Obviously people are paying for it because they see the value. News is free. Real content you subscribe to.

    Sadly, Trinidad and Tobago has lost the real journalists we had just a decade or two ago. Our newspapers are just glorified blogs – inaccurate many times, sensationalism, poor grammar, distasteful et al. Why would I want to PAY for that? One can get the same low level of reporting right here on FaceBook.

    If the local media wants to move into the 21st century they need to look at some recent history and understand what works. They seem to be emulating what failed many newspapers in the US and Europe – hiding an excuse for content behind a paywall. No significant number will subscribe when they can get ‘good enough’ for free.

    TL;DR People are willing to pay for content, if that content is of an extremely high quality, convenient (accessible anywhere and easily), reasonably priced, tiered model (free, freemium, premium) and it has to add something to increase customer satisfaction that one cannot get for free.

    Please excuse typos. Typing this in a rush.

  3. We are trying desperately to return to the past.

  4. Do say more Strauss Wylde. A paywall for every newspaper cuts readers. Nobody has ever disputed that.
    You can cut your readership and survive if your potential audience is in the millions. That’s not the case here.

  5. If you think the additional dollar will kill you, us and the Express, wait until after September 7 when the devaluation hits. The PP’s stint in government was a residual-effect cashicide; they’ll be killing everybody’s money, including yours, mine and the Express’ – for years to come.

  6. There’s much I need to say about this.

    I’ll start by saying : a pay wall is NOT a bad strategy.

    Many once free ad-driven news media have transitioned online into a pay model. It has saved many jobs and kept century old names and associations alive; brought stability to the industry.

    Then how/what did the Express do wrong? Oh where do I begin… after a good sleep.

  7. I can’t even find my own articles on the Guardian website at times. Smh…I don’t know what they be doin

  8. Trouble for whoever at express designed that strategy is that the market reacts to changes they make on its own terms not theirs. It was up to them to read the market properly, I’m predicting that they didn’t in this case. The few who do pay won’t replace the traffic they may lose but we will see how this pans out. Guardian must be smiling. There is real opportunity for all small online only news sites too.

  9. It sells better Kyon Esdelle. Only in terms of readership.

  10. U think Newsday a better newspaper than guardian ?

  11. At present, the Trinidad Guardian is comfortably the third best newspaper on the market out of three. But, as the Trinidad Express goes behind a paywall and the Trinidad Newsday’s website remains crap, watch the Guardian soar up the rankings by default, despite offering readers an anorexic website.

  12. Gerard M. Edwards, I don’t know about them doing market research. Here’s why I doubt it.
    The entire media advertising world is based on a lie.
    Companies pay top dollar to advertise their goods and services to less people in the newspaper because, against common sense and statistics, newspapers have gotten companies to believe that ads there are somehow more valuable.
    Whereas ads on online sites, like Wired868, last longer, have the capacity to take readers straight to the company website and can offer advertisers precise stats for readership.
    So don’t bet on market research for the good of all parties.

    • All of our media houses lack professional Journalism/ists’. One huge problem I have with our media houses is the lack of Follow Up stories. I think this is one area that if improved, readership will explode; with any media house. Continuiey is essential to keep readers coming back for more. I have read hundreds of stories that I’m interested in following to the end; only to be disappointed.

  13. As an advertiser what I care about is exposure. As an informed advertiser I know that in the world of social media that means free sharing of content, articles going viral etc, chances are more people will see my ad. Maybe they did it in the hope that the print ads may reach more people who may pay for online content. I think however that’s a big assumption. I’m sure the express did their market research and did what was best for the bottom line.

  14. I don’t think Express uses Google ads anymore.

  15. It’s up to allyuh to not participate, not to them to stop asking.

  16. While that is true Keith Francis Express has to remember that they come right here on Facebook take our posts and make news from them. Reporters can’t be every where, so we should start charging the Express when they make news from our comments and pics. This thing where readers send pics of accidents, traffic, flooding etc and they use it for free, they should start paying us now because we too have a financial bottom line.

  17. OCM’s primary concern is shareholder value. Somebody worked some numbers and determined that the percentage of persons, however small, that will pay to read the Express online is greater than anything they can earn with Google Ads. Readership doesn’t matter. Financial bottom line does.

  18. Paywalls for dailies is a dead model unless you’re a business/financial publication.

  19. I’m still wondering who they believe will pay to read online Express. I wish I could see a video of that board meeting discussion to make this decision

  20. At this critical time, they start this nonsense

  21. Hope they ( CCN Group) don’t have the “Dog and the bone” syndrome.

  22. CCN tv6 might soon charge us to look at their 7pm news. I can see it now, “Coming up at 7pm our Pay-per-view newscast”.

  23. I still get the paywall here though 🙁 unfortunately for the express, the only paper I have ever willingly subscribed for is the New York Times, and that’s only because I got a free sweatshirt and a student special deal out of the arrangement…

    • And with the size of the NY Times’ readership, it can probably afford to survive on the smaller “elite” percentage of the news market. The Trinidad market is much smaller and any media house will struggle here.

    • Oh yeah… i mean, the nyt is pretty much the national newspaper of the us… idk if the express is nyt of the region but even then the returns still can’t be worth it… more readers to wired868 though 😉 #freedomofinformation

  24. As soon as I saw those paywalls I was wondering whether they did ANY research or whether they just jumped into that rubbish on a whim. They were already ahead why go backward. Ask someone who knows about this.

  25. Hahaha… I said from day one that Wired868 will always remain free. It is just about having a new business model Kyon Esdelle.
    It isn’t charity on my end either. I’m asking persons to give up to their time and to choose Wired868 ahead of the other things they can be doing.
    And then I encourage them to share stories within their own sphere. I rather see readers as part of the business model rather than just an “end user” or a walking wallet.
    Companies pay to offer their goods and services to the Wired868 community and that is what allows us to offer news 7 days a week.

  26. But seriously…the cost of Express is going up?

  27. Remember when Digicel in their wisdom blocked free call with Skype and similar apps. Well this is similar in my opinion.

  28. Do we have room for 3 daily newspapers?

  29. I feel is Mutt and Jeff running the Express yes. An entire board of seemingly intelligent people made this decision and approved it?!

  30. They are definitely swimming against the tide Chica Emery. I do understand the desire to make money from your content. I’m in the same boat. But, as you pointed out, you can do that with ads.
    The modern market does not really allow you to cash in from both ends anymore.

  31. They tried before and backed down. So they must have given it thought.
    The problem is probably who was inside that think tank.

  32. I will give the Express 2 months to reverse their decision. The amount of traffic to their website will decrease, so advertisers may not want to pay the high advertising rates because their message will reach less people. When they crunch their numbers after 3 months they will realize they’re making less money, then by November their website will be free again.

  33. The Express obviously did not give this idea sufficent thought. Taking readership numbers for granted , is not an automatic transition to increased cash flows.

  34. The Express serious? Don’t they make money from the banner ads on their website? I would make a guess that the Express makes approximately $12,000 for one banner ad on its homepage. Now go count the amount of ads, more ads than news, it’s like a Christmas tree and they still want to charge us to read news online? Get the hell out of here Express, I don’t have thant money to pay.

  35. Hmmmm so what we getting for the extra $1? With all the election gimmicks and ads they raking in a shitload of cash. So what do they want the extra $1 for? Or is it that Gumbs file a lawsuit on them that they want the public to subsidize? Either way I not in that, will subscribe to Wired868

  36. Well is best we just spend the $3 for the sunshine and done. Hahahha

  37. The Guardian had tried this some years ago. The soon went back on that decision, sort of, as you can get the entire Guardian newspaper for free with the mobile app. This is a crazy business decision with the express. Trini’s are a very elastic audience for most things other than Richard’s bake and shark. My guess is that they were betting on that the hectic election season would entice people to pay. Wrong. As somebody said, expect the Guardian readership to increase and Express to decrease and in two months they reverse the decision.

  38. All the big newspapers of the world (except the wall street journal) have a free website with ALL the news (not just some of the major articles) yet express going back into time and hoping they can make money off of news!!! Plus they following the guardian with this ish!!! It does not have enough people in T&T who would be willing to pay for the “Express” online to justify going the pay route. Unless its the foreign crowd they trying to tax!! #dumbassness

  39. Scotty Ranking

    This is a regressive step for the local media industry. Expect a backlash to follow forthwith!

  40. Gaiven Clairmont

    Yea that really sucks tbh, but to be honest again, I haven’t bought an express in months 🙁 (shameface)