Jamaica Gleaner Killing Brand Online?
Mahagony Sylvester, Investigative Reporter
Jamaican news icon, the Jamaica Gleaner, has decided to limit its online presence to 15 free articles per month. After almost 200 years spent building its brand as Jamaica’s leading newspaper, there is a feeling among the online audience that this is not a good move. The Jamaica gleaner, long a Jamaican staple in the printed media category is clearly feeling some heat as the world of media has steadily moved into the online environment. The jamaica-gleaner.com website has maintained its position as one of the top Jamaican/Caribbean websites for many years. Now by pushing subscriptions at $9.99 per month, a move that may prove to be short-sighted as it attempts to sure up its revenue base, the Jamaica Gleaner may actually be driving faithful viewers away, with the long term repercussions of decreasing the value of its renowned brand.
Putting things in perspective, the Gleaner was able to dominate all types of media competition for about 160 years until the well-capitalized Jamaica Observer made its debut on the Jamaican scene in 1993. After almost 20 years, the Jamaica Observer continues on strongly and it website JamaicaObserver.com is FREE, although it also maintains a subscription-based e-paper. No doubt the Jamaica Observer management team is secretly singing Hip Hip Hooray at the Jamaica Gleaner’s move to online paid subscription.
With so many options available for Jamaican news online, this move by the Jamaica Gleaner is to say the least questionable. In addition to the Jamaica Observer, there is On The Ground News, Jamaicans.com and a few other notable options. Also, Jamaicans are big on the “sharing and saving” mentality. Sharing news is what they do. As something happens (even before it happens officially), everyone already knows, especially with its extremely high cell phone penetration.
I guess we should be grateful that the Jamaica Star, Hospitality Jamaica, Global Jamaica, Youth Link and a few other hardly known Gleaner publications are still free. However this myopic decision that forces persons who want to get news from Jamaica-Gleaner.com to subscribe, will have the impact of cutting off “a whole heap” of persons in the Jamaican/Caribbean Diaspora from one of the most respected news sources. Yes, paper newspaper sales are declining all around the world but charging for online content when quality competition exists is definitely not the way to go. Let’s hope that the Gleaner rethinks this brand killing decision.