USA Today Network – Wisconsin Sucks

Blogging Blue has published a couple of things recently about the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (digital presence Zach brought us The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Laughable Plea For Subscribers and earlier I presented Journalism In Milwaukee Takes Another Hit.

Just to make this clear I am a long long time subscriber to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel…probably like 35+ years or so. I get the daily and Sunday paper delivered to my door. I have a letter here on my desk that I received about two weeks ago that said as of September 1 2019, my subscription would be $53 per month. So that’s the background.

I just finished writing an article (Costs: Tariffs OK, Minimum Wage OMG) that I wanted to link to an article that I read in the print edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday September 2, 2019. But no matter what words or phrases I used, I couldn’t find it in the search at JSOnline.

Well after looking closer, I see that the article originated in the Green Bay Press Gazette, another paper in the USA Today Network – Wisconsin. But I can’t read it or copy it or share it out because it is behind the Press Gazette’s paywall. (btw: it was published in Green Bay August 29, 2019 – a nice break down of minimum wage suggested solutions, median wages across the state, living wage calculations across the state, job loss/no loss projections, and other Wisconsin relevant wage data that would drive any data wonk crazy)

USA Today’s digital presence is a hot mess. Even when you do it right, their search function is touchy, iffy, and sometimes doesn’t find things that you eventually manually just find.

And this isn’t the first time that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has printed articles from other members of the USA Today network. But as a subscriber, I’d like to see it on JSOnline too. Not search hither and yon for it and then not be able to access it.

And then there are the articles that I read on JSOnline that never make it to print. MJS wants subscribers? They better treat them all the damn same. I can understand publishing something on Tuesday online and it doesn’t show up in print until Thursday or whatever…but I should never ever be left feeling that I am missing something.

Yes…certainly all of the USA Today network papers should share articles…one of the major advantages of having a network…no one has to rewrite the same story a dozen times across the state. But if shared it should be shared equally. If you are going to print it in the paper I subscribe to…I should be able to find it and read it my paper’s digital presence…and vice versa.

And actually, I would suggest anyone who subscribes to one Wisconsin network paper should have access to every other paper’s digital site across the network. I shouldn’t have to subscribe to 12 different papers to get state news.

Maybe the newest merger will improve their digital presence, but I am not holding out much hope for that. They may continue to lose subscribers…including me when my renewal comes up…after removing the sports section today (because I don’t read it) I had a 14 page news section with 3 full pages of hearing aid ads…and the 3 pages of Green Sheet, i.e. comics and crossword and this day in history…and this was a heavy news day for them, hurricane and all).

Eventually there will be no news…I pray I don’t see that day.


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