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Would you donate to help your local paper?

The Miami Herald is asking online readers to charge a donation to their credit cards.

By Karen Datko Dec 16, 2009 7:35PM

People are generous with donations during the holiday season. But would you put your local newspaper on your giving list?


Yes, it’s come to this. The Miami Herald is asking online readers for a contribution. You can donate with your Visa, American Express or MasterCard.

The Web donation page, which you can click to at the end of every story, says: "If you value The Miami Herald's local news reporting and investigations, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you."


“We're trying something new, we're putting it out there to see if it works, to see what the response is," said Herald vice president Elissa Vanaver, according to


The paper says it has no plans to charge for online content. Meanwhile, NBC says, the Herald eliminated 175 jobs earlier this year and will axe another 24 this holiday season. Maybe we should take up a collection for those folks, too.


Readers of the NBC Web site can vote on their reaction to this latest development in the American newspapers-in-decline saga: 54% said they were “laughing.” After nearly a lifetime in the business, we chose “sad.”


What's next for an industry saddled with an outdated delivery system, as well as declining circulation and ad revenue -- and unable to come up with a way to make Web-based news pay -- at least enough to keep the entire operation afloat. We’ve all come to expect to get our online news for free.

"Trying to backtrack on this is no easy task and many publications are researching their options thoroughly or waiting patiently to see how others tackle the issue before taking any final decisions,” Jennifer Lush wrote at


What do you think? Would you donate? What does the Herald stand to lose, other than a little dignity? Maybe readers will feel sorry for the paper or its employees, and pry open their pocketbooks.


Pat Kiernan wrote at

It’s an interesting move, but I don’t think we’re getting a glimpse into the true future of journalism. Rather, I’m betting it’s just another of the steps along the way toward convincing the public that quality content isn’t free.

An anonymous reader at NBC shared our sorrow: “This is the saddest item about the state of American journalism yet. Worse than the closing of the Rocky, the P-I or E&P. Is this what it's come to? My heart aches for the Fourth Estate.” (Note: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer still publishes online, and industry publication Editor & Publisher will produce a January issue, which may very well be its last.)


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