November 8, 2016 Last Updated 11:22 am

Both major metro and local newspapers drop their paywalls for Election Day coverage

Morning Brief: Media observers already are beginning to look past this contentious election to examine possible lessons learned, both in the style of coverage, and its actual content

The polls are open and the final countdown to the end of Election Year 2016 is near. Then comes the clean-up. Meanwhile, the major newspapers that employ a paywall, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, are dropping them for the day – fearful, no doubt, that readers will go elsewhere if they don’t. After all, readers will be refreshing their browsers constantly tonight to get the latest results and would run up against any metered paywall almost immediately.

But it is not just the big guys dropping their paywalls tonight. Many newspapers are behind paywalls because of their corporate owners policies, so papers such as The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, and The Sun Herald of South Mississippi – both McClatchy papers – have lowered their paywalls, as well.


Irish Times, Laura Slattery:

Dropping the paywall: Are newspapers dropping the ball?

But while dropping the paywall for big national events may provide a one-off advertising boost, thanks to the spikes in web and app traffic, are elections and weather emergencies the most effective time to try to convert non-subscribers to subscribers?

Earlier this year, the Financial Times pulled off what appears to be one of the most successful paywall drops ever when its 24-hour open access policy on the day of the Brexit referendum led to a 600 per cent spike in subscription sales the following weekend (compared to an average weekend). This was a job well done. But the Remain-favouring Financial Times and Brexit may be an inimitable case of a specialist title capitalising as best it could from a bizarre political crisis.

Yes, this is snark.

Already the media is beginning to look past the election for any lessons to be learned, both in how they cover the candidates, but in how they deal with the alternative press that has boosted the chances of the alt-right movement.

Interesting to note, however, that some of the media outlets that have benefited most from the candidacy of Donald Trump, may already be facing a backlash. Yesterday readers rebelled against the site when it published its last group of polls that did not show their candidate winning key battleground states. Readers blamed the site for delivering the bad news and urged fellow readers to go elsewhere for content that would confirm their existing point of views.

The New Republic, Brian Beutler:

Shame on Us, the American Media
The press blew this election, with potentially horrifying consequences.

A key component of successful journalism is the unearthing and relaying of facts, and on this score the media—faced with an historically opaque candidate, and one with an instinct for opacity, but a long public record—did a good job. Despite Trump’s best efforts, we know much more about him today than we did before this election started. Through less laborious processes we also know more about Hillary Clinton.

But another key component of journalism is the framing and contextualizing of events and new information: How do you take that raw material and present it in ways that doesn’t just provide consumers with new data points, but help them suss out how critical those data points are and what they mean in the scheme of things?

Here, major media outlets failed abysmally.

The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg:

Media’s Next Challenge: Overcoming the Threat of Fake News

On Wednesday comes the reckoning.

The election news bubble that’s about to pop has blocked from plain view the expanding financial sinkhole at the center of the paper-and-ink branch of the news industry, which has recently seen a print advertising plunge that was “much more precipitous, to be honest with you, than anybody expected a year or so ago,” as The Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker told me on Friday.

Papers including The Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Gannett publications and others have responded with plans to reorganize, shed staff, kill off whole sections, or all of the above.

I am guessing that setting fire to someone’s front lawn was not part of the sales training.

The Deseret News, Ben Lockhart:

Woman selling magazines started fires in yard after sales pitch turned down

A woman intentionally set two fires in front of a Salt Lake home and then tried to block a fire engine as it arrived after a resident declined to buy magazines she was selling door-to-door, according to charges filed Friday.

Aerica Velria-Latan Johnson, 19, is charged in 3rd District Court with lighting various items on fire Tuesday in front of a home in the area of 1400 East and Downington Avenue after her would-be customers told her they were “not interested in purchasing her magazines,” court documents say.

…Court documents say Johnson tried her pitch at the front door of a home with a woman who is a caretaker for a disabled resident. The woman declined to buy any magazines, at which point “Johnson became irate and began swearing at (her),” charges state.

Johnson then went to the driveway of the home and ignited dried leaves and sugar packets with a lighter, according to charging documents.

Elsewhere in the world:

The New York Times, Richard Martyn-Hemphill:

Estonia’s Government Teeters on Verge of Collapse

Far from the sound and fury of Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States, Estonia’s government has, with little international attention, reached the brink of collapse.

Two of three parties governing the small Baltic nation of 1.3 million have broken off their coalition agreement — little more than a year after it was put in place — leaving Prime Minister Taavi Roivas exposed to a vote of no confidence in the country’s Parliament.

The coalition’s rupture and an impending leadership change could give an opening to the Center Party, the largest opposition party that has long had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin’s United Russia Party.


Mosul battle: Experts probe IS mass grave at Hamam al-Alil

Iraqi forensic experts are investigating a mass grave that was discovered by troops advancing towards the Islamic State-held city of Mosul.

The Iraqi military has said the grave, in the grounds of an agricultural college in the town of Hamam al-Alil, contains about 100 decapitated bodies.

Most have been reduced to skeletons, so it is unclear who the victims were.

IS militants have carried out many mass killings and have been accused of fresh atrocities in the area in recent weeks.

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