Monday, April 19, 2004

Forget it, AJC

I'm probably the last to learn this: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution now requires registration to see anything older than today's paper online. When you try to go to yesterday's front page, it asks you for your first name and an e-mail address. Well, fine. How much harm can they do with that? Especially since I keep a junk e-mail address to give to people I really don't want to hear from. Fine. It's annoying, but fine. I give them that and move on.

The next screen is where my resentment boils over. It asks for the same information again... plus a last name, plus a password, year of birth, sex, household income, home address, home phone, "How you use the Journal-Constitution" (which is to say, which subscription option do you use), interests, and opt-ins for nine e-mail newsletters.

I have no idea what the next screen says.

I'm not opposed to registration per se, but I already get far too many subscription soliciations from the AJC. If I fill this thing out, it'll almost certainly count as permission to call me. (Why else would they ask for a phone number, unless they intended to use it?) They have been losing subscribers steadily for years, and rather than actually make the paper better, they're pushing their sales staff harder. This is not a business model I care to encourage.

LATER: I guess I should have poked around more. The AJC now stops you at the main page: Without registration you go no further. There are much better newspapers on the web that require much less information to let you in. Even the local alternative weekly, Creative Loafing (now 1/3 owned by Cox, the same monopoly that owns the AJC), doesn't say a word. But then, being free, they never pretended to be anything other than advertiser-supported. The AJC still allows its readers to cling to the illusion that they matter.

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