Brunswick News, paywalls, and journalism in NB

The print media in New Brunswick is mostly owned by an entity called Brunswick News, which is a division of the Irving Group of Companies, the dominant economic force in the province.   There are very few alternative voices in this field- even the free weekly "alternative" paper in the province is an Irving publication.  Recently, they decided to put all their newspapers behind an online paywall, a practice that is fairly common, and actually quite reasonable for an industry that faces more challenges to turn a profit.  The New York Times has been able to use the paywall in a reasonable way, with a certain number of free articles per month and a few different subscription options   The price of the Brunswick News paywall, however, is not worth it: $16.95 per month with a subscription to one of their dailies, and $19.95 per month without.  No free articles, no reduced prices if you don't necessarily want to read the Miramichi Leader or any of the other small-town papers.  

Before the paywall was activated, there were no updates for breaking news: the next time any change was made to the online content would be when the next morning's paper was published. The quality of journalism is another sticking point I have with the amount they charge: there are a few bright spots here and there buried beneath articles cribbed wholesale from wire services, trivial city boosterism, and a lack of true analysis.  The front of the Moncton Times & Transcript, for example, usually has a piece on the front page about how great a place Moncton is to shop.  The "News Today" (ostensibly for actual current events in Canada and abroad) section once counted the birth of Suri Cruise as front-page material.  Compared to their sister paper, Saint John's Telegraph-Journal, it makes Moncton (and Eastern New Brunswick by default) look like a region of morons.  There's a sense of redundancy as well, you feel like you've read the same pieces last month.  (For a more thorough discussion of the media and short-sighted city strategy in Moncton, check out Graeme Decarie's blog).  The small town papers are important for their local coverage, but for every worthwhile story in the Miramichi Leader, there's another four page spread of old ladies at luncheons.

Irving can get away with charging so much for so little because print media is a captive market in New Brunswick.  There are other sources for news, especially online, but Irving still has the power to muscle out or absorb anything that comes along.  Some speculate that Irving will take a hit because of the people cancelling their subscriptions in protest, and revert back to the old model, but I doubt it will ever go back to free online content.  The way they have it now, though, is like having each newspaper at a newsstand covered in an opaque bag, bundled together with every other newspaper in the province.