American Airlines bankruptcy news shows flaws of “pay wall”

American Airlines parent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this morning to reduce labor costs and shed its big debt load. “It was the last major airline to resist filing for Chapter 11 in an effort to shed contracts, a move that analysts said left it less nimble than many of its competitors,” as the New York Times reported.

There already are more than 100 “free” reports available on Google, including the major dailies and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The press release is free on Business Wire.

But here’s the message you get at the website of the Dallas Morning News, American Airlines’ hometown city: Two scant paragraphs (after a “pop-up” ad) and then you run into a “pay wall.” It reads “get subscriber content access to read this story.”

The price ranges from $2.31 a week to $8.53 a week to continue reading. The “pay wall” was launched in March.

The Morning News is the lone major newspaper in the Dallas market, once one of the nation’s most competitive newspaper cities. The rival Dallas Times Herald closed in 1991. Throughout the ’90s the Morning News won numerous Pulitzers.

Most news has become a “commodity” nowadays, as American’s bankruptcy shows. Putting it behind a “pay wall” only sends readers to the competition. And there’s plenty of it.

Google’s aggregation site already is a “home” for news seekers. Now Facebook is inching closer to an IPO that it hopes will value the company at $100 billion, as reported here.

As the Dallas Morning News publisher Jim Moroney himself put it in 2009: “If The Dallas Morning News today put up a paywall over its content, people would go to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.”

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About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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4 Responses to American Airlines bankruptcy news shows flaws of “pay wall”

  1. Dave Cranfield says:

    I got past their firewall. Cut and paste the headline to Google – American Airlines, AMR to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy, Dallas Morning News –

    The full article without ad will be available.

  2. jeffpelline says:

    Thanks Dave. I should have restated that point, made here before. It just ads to the flaws of a “firewall” model, throwing some cold water in the face of people who are forking out $8.53 a week for supposed “subscriber” content.

  3. Douglas Keachie says:

    Thanks for the tip! I wonder how soon they’ll figure a way to block that access…

  4. Ben Emery says:

    Why is news for profit?
    Since the telecommunications act 96′ and ending “public interest, convenience and necessity.” of the fairness doctrine in 87′, we have seen the news transform into infotainment. This is why it is essential to keep net neutrality in place, changing the way we get our news and communicate.

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