*Pic: This is the firewall that one paying customer gets when attempted to access an on-line story in the blog-like version of the Mercury.

Re: TALKING POINT: Stirred but not shaken by a bitter online backlash to the new paywall
by Phil Young ~ deputy editor
The Mercury, 24 November 2016

Dear Editor,

Did you know that I cannot read this story in the on-line edition of the Mercury?

I am a paying customer of the Mercury for the online editions, but this story is blocked by a firewall, for me, along with all other stories with a firewall up and burning.

Did you know why this is frustrating?

It is dishonest and a form of theft to offer a service, get paid for it, and fail to deliver.

Not only has this been going on for three days, but not being able to access the story on-line, I am unable to make a comment following the story and participate in any discussion, not to mention learning from what other readers have to say.

I am able to read the on-line publication of the print edition, so what is going on?

I have raised the matter for three days in a row now, receiving Email acknowledgements, which is deepening the frustration, because I have not been contacted, and the matter has not been fixed.

My democratic rights in the age of the Internet are being breached, and I am paying for it.

How long will a reader tolerate paying for a lack of service, and being ignored?

Amazingly, I did receive an Email with a link to a survey to rate the service of addressing my complaint.

What could I respond, with a zilch response?

Has the Mercury gone off half-cocked with their brand new sizzling fire wall?

Phil Young raises the need to be able to pay journalists. If this is true, why does the Mercury run two whole pages of unpaid articles by anyone in the community under “Talking Point”? I have had a Talking Point published, but I wasn’t paid.

Then I wonder, why is the Mercury not paying for articles, which are popular reads.

Clearly the Mercury is freeloading with free unpaid articles from anyone wanting their words up in lights.

The Mercury runs unpaid articles, to the tune of 14 pages every week.

How much is that worth in journalism and newspaper sales?

How many journalists have been pushed out of work as a consequence of this freeloading by the Mercury?

Investigative articles take time to prepare, and are the cream of a newspaper.

Most all readers of the Mercury probably believe that the Mercury pays for these stories.

As the Mercury has reduced itself to the level of a blog with unpaid articles, the argument that paying to step through the firewall of the online edition is justified, is a leaky argument.

As if to rub salt into the wound, why is the paid deputy editor, Phil Young, publishing his plea for money in Talking Point, where writers don’t get paid?

The Mercury editors, managers and owners need to step back and tidy up the house, or they will risk tumbling down the hill, and that kind of tumble can lead to financial ruin.

The Mercury cannot slide toward becoming a blog, with Talking Point, and then beat the spoon and pan about getting paid for content in their blog-like on-line edition.

I am paying for a service that I am not getting, and my complaints are being acknowledged by robot, and then ignored.

What in the hell is going on.

Another form of firewall exists with the Mercury on-line blog-like edition.

If I make a comment after a story, I never get an Email to tell me that anyone else has made a comment.

In the age of blogs, this is a form of censorship.

Other newspapers, like the Sunshine Coast Daily, which now has a firewall, issues Email alerts for subsequent comments.

FaceBook issues Email alerts with subsequent comments.

The Tasmanian Times issues Email alerts for subsequent comments.

So why are other newspapers, social media and blogs ahead of the Mercury when it comes to Email alerts following comments?

Is it cost-cutting and running a news service on the cheap?

Another firewall is the Mercury archive.

When I bookmark a story published in the Mercury on-line and try to access it for an article, like magic, it is not there.

An archive is critical for researchers and writers.

I cannot believe that the Mercury dumps stories from their archives.

How do the few remaining paid journalist employed at the Mercury access past stories?

If journalists cannot access past stories at the Mercury, how dumb is that?

As a person active in the community who regularly issues media releases, it would be nice to receive an acknowledgement.

If the Mercury has dumbed itself down with fewer paid journalists, displaced by free unpaid articles from the public, that may explain the wall of silence when it comes to media releases.

I fear for the future of the Mercury, if it is not willing and able to get its act together for paying customers.

That firewall should never have been launched with all its splutter and sizzle, until it was working properly.

Paying customers will march off in a huff, when the service does not match the money paid.

Now back to the ABC online news service.

Hang on, someone has replied to my last comment in the Tassie Times.

That’s the thing about democracy: it works when there is a communication flow, paid for or free.

As a researcher I go hunting for information on many topics.

I would like to be able to access all archives, but if too many fire walls go up, who can pay for them all.

It would be good to have a package that offers open access to information and stories.

If the Mercury liked that idea, they would need to fix up their own house of archives.

It is so depressing when I go to an article bookmarked with the Mercury, and what do I see.

Nothing to see here.

Yours sincerely,

Kim Peart

*Kim Peart was raised in Howrah from 1952, and watched the old farmlands transform into suburb. Finding adventure in Scouts and Army Cadets, Kim later pursued art and founded a Viking Society in Tasmania in 1975, seeking history and culture in the spirit of adventure. In 1976 Kim saw an ad for space settlement and signed up to be a space development advocate. Environmental matters came later and figuring out how we can live in harmony with Nature. Earth matters and space issues merged in 2006 when Kim wrote his document ~ Creating A Solar Civilization ~ exploring how we can only achieve a sustainable human presence on Earth, by building a sustainable industrial presence beyond Earth. Kim now lives in Ross with his wife, Jennifer, from where they host global meetings with space advocates in Second Life, a virtual world, where people can connect globally and plan local action toward creating a celestial future, and winning back a safe Earth. Kim is the director of Space Pioneers and may be contacted at ~ kimpeart@iinet.net.au ~ In 2014 Kim attended the first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality conference, where he met the pioneers of a new age of the Internet. The adventure has only just begun.

EARLIER, Bob Burton on Tasmanian Times …

Can Spiderman save the Mercury from oblivion

MEANWHILE, Anthony Bacon …

TT asked Anthony permish to run this shot …

While I am flattered that The Mercury chose to publish and credit one of my aerial images on page 18, Wednesday November 23, 2016, I would like to state that I was not contacted or notified of it’s publication nor asked permission for it’s use in this instance. All my images are subject to copywrite, including any stills taken from video. I have never granted The Mercury perpetual usage rights to any of my images.

As this image was taken from a UAV (drone) by a non-certified operator (me) before the rule change in September 2016 relating to commercial use, I wish to publicly state that I have not received any payment or reward for it’s unauthorised use in a commercial publication.

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