Arizona Guardian goes legit

by David Safier

What had become my go-to source for legislative info, the newly created online Arizona Guardian, has adopted the subscription model. A professional subscription costs $150 per month, a non-profit professional, $120 per month and an individual $30 per month.

It's now, unfortunately, my no-to source. I got myself a free login, but it didn't gain me access to any of the articles I tried to link to.

These folks are serious professionals with, I think, about 80 years of news experience between them, and they do a great job of getting the story behind the story. I wish them well. They view themselves as a news agency as opposed to an online newspaper, so I think they're hoping to get subscribers who will use their information like papers use, say, AP. But the online subscription model hasn't worked out so well for lots of others in the past. 

If this model doesn't work, there's another promising idea coming down the line where the reader pays pennies per page view. It may just be the news profit model of the future.

If I see a teaser on the front page that interests me, I can link to the article for, say, a dime or a quarter. I'd be willing to do that and get a monthly readership bill on my credit card. Others who are occasional users might be willing to do that as well. If a website can get a large enough readership that it makes money by selling ads plus the pay-to-read revenue, that might work as well as or better than flat subscription rates.

One response to “Arizona Guardian goes legit

  1. David,

    Thanks for the kind words about The Arizona Guardian. We wish we could have continued to provide the news service for free, but we have to pay the phone bills.

    The news industry is changing quickly. Just a few years ago, most newspapers got 40 percent of their revenue from classified ads alone. Craig’s List wiped that out almost overnight. Meanwhile, the cost of newsprint doubled.

    You show me a business that loses 40 percent of its revenue while one of its biggest expenses doubles, and I’ll show you a business in trouble.

    Let’s just fast forward through the rest of the discussion … The news product is going to have to pay for itself in the future, which really, began a couple of years ago. News outlets that are too slow to realize that fold.

    The key for people like me is to make the news product worth the price. That’s exactly the plan at the Guardian. As you noted, we have four veteran reporters and editors — Dennis Welch, Mary K. Reinhart, Patti Epler and me — who have more than 80 years of combined experience. Not only do we have the most experienced team at the Capitol, we have the largest team at the Capitol.

    When people around the Capitol start talking about TIF and mark to market, we know the language.

    The Arizona Guardian isn’t for everyone of course. If someone wants to read about people who shave Arizona Cardinals logos in their hair, there’s better outlets for that. If someone wants to read about who movie stars are sleeping with, there’s better outlets for that, too.

    But if you want the inside story on Arizona government and politics, The Arizona Guardian clearly is your best source. And, I might point out, the Guardian is 88 percent less costly than another outlet that we think we beat every day.

    Thanks for the kind words David. And let me personally invite you to put The Arizona Guardian back on your must-read list.

    — Paul Giblin
    Co-founder, co-owner and co-editor of The Arizona Guardian