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Hypergene MediaBlog » A Passport for News Site Registration

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Monday, 01 Mar 2004

A Passport for News Site Registration

From: Wired: Extra! Extra! Read All About You

"While a few years ago only a handful of newspaper websites required user registration, industry analysts say the practice has now become commonplace. The bulk of the most widely circulated American papers, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, require users to complete an online form to read articles. In recent weeks, The Washington Post joined the crowd, replacing a pop-up reader-questionnaire feature with a registration form requiring an e-mail address and password.”

“Rob Runett, director of electronic communications for the Newspaper Association of America, says small and medium-sized papers are also following in the footsteps of the major dailies. To get access to articles, readers are increasingly required to provide such data as age, ZIP code, gender and, in many cases, information about income and personal interests."

The trouble is, if you are a regular reader of several news sites and perhaps a infrequent reader of hundreds more, how in the hell do you remember all those user name and passwords? As readers increasingly seek a proliferation of sources and perspectives on a number of issues, this is more likely to be the norm.

Wouldn’t it be great if the NAA, the AP, the Audit Bureau of Circulations or some collective news industry organization could make it easy for all of us to register for all these news sites? Call it a “News Passport” a la MSN’s Passport or whatever, but this would certainly cut down on potential user frustration and complaint. Not to mention, lower the barrier to entry to consuming, and perhaps discussing, news articles.

There might be a better business case to be made for a single passport approach. If readers could manage a single, well-designed account of their personal information, they might be more likely to provide accurate information about themselves. News organizations could also provide incentives or other features for signing up and giving readers a one-stop-shop to opt-in for communications from these sites.

John Roberts, another verteran of the New Century Network (NCN), explains why this will never happen: “Newspaper chains hate each other more than they hated Yahoo and Excite, whom they rightly (well, at least in Yahoo’s case) saw as the real competition.”

Posted on Mar 01, 2004 | 7:10 am EST
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