The Price of “Free” News

I went to denverpost.com this morning to see what’s going on in this fine city, and I was immediately greeted by a pre-homepage advertisement page. I quickly found the “X Close” button and proceeded to the main page…where I was greeted by one of those massive banner ads that rolls out to cover a quarter of the page until you again click the “X Close” button, which was strategically placed to be more difficult to find on this one.

Whew, ok, let’s read some news. But what’s this double-sidebar ad action? And which of all these things I can click on are news and which ones are ads? At an initial glance, it’s not easy to tell. (See photo – click to enlarge).

I don’t blame The Denver Post for this. After all, every other major news provider online does similar advertising – from ABCNews.com to The Wall Street Journal online. It just makes me realize that – dare I even say it – I would pay for news again if it meant I could read it without pop-up, roll-out or banner ads. I like the The Denver Post because I know the content is reliable and, more importantly, that it is edited. The writing is guaranteed to be better than most of the other “free” web news services I read (with the exception of AlJazeera.com, which also has very high-quality content and no advertisements).

Lucky for me, The Denver Post does offer a digital replica edition, which looks just like the real thing and gets delivered right to your inbox. So I guess the question is if I’ll put my money where my mouth is and actually pay for this. That’s just a really difficult thing to do for a guy who, since I’ve been old enough to be interested in reading the news, has never had to pay for it. But if these seemingly un-blockable pop-up ads keep getting more an more aggressive, I don’t see that I’ll have any other option.

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