For decades, printed trade magazines focusing on the surveying profession have been free. In exchange for filling out a simple survey (see what I did there?), any surveyor or aspiring surveyor could get a free subscription to one of these magazines. The magazines were funded by advertisers so that those of us on the ground wouldn’t have to foot the bill.
Early in my career, I learned of POB Magazine and Professional Surveyor Magazine, and I subscribed to both of them immediately. I didn’t find the advertisements to be a problem — in fact, they seemed to complement the subject matter. The written articles were informative and interesting, and I learned a lot just from reading them. But on top of that, the advertisements kept me abreast of technological innovation and tools that were available to me and my employer. I looked forward to each new issue.
At some point, The American Surveyor joined the mix. In fact, I remember that it launched as a new surveying magazine you could only receive with a paid subscription. Everything about it seemed to be the same otherwise. I don’t particularly remember it having less advertisements, but maybe it did. We’re digging pretty deep into past memories, so forgive me if they aren’t 100% accurate.
One day, The American Surveyor announced that they were converting into a free model, much like the other magazines. Did they not have enough subscribers to support the magazine? I don’t have an answer to that question. Nor do I actually know why they converted to a non-paid subscription model. But the fact of the matter is, all three of our trade magazines were now free. This went on for many, many years.
POB Magazine recently announced “POB Premium“, with content available only to those with a paid subscription. While I don’t have any inside insight into why they’ve chosen this direction, I do find myself wondering if it is somehow related to the fall of newspapers (printed media). For example, my local newspaper currently allows you to view five articles on their website before you need a paid subscription to read more. This appears to be the same method POB is using for their paywall.
POB seems to have structured the new system to fund premium content — presumably why they’ve deemed it “POB Premium”. But what is premium content in this case? Is it somehow better than their old content? In my mind, it implies that their previous content isn’t premium.
I’ve been watching the trade magazines evolve from the sidelines since 1986. While some have been slow to change, hanging onto old ideals, it was Professional Surveyor Magazine that saw the impending changes to our profession — and embraced them. Now known as xyHt Magazine, they seem to have restructured themselves to serve all geospatial professions while maintaining their history of serving Land Surveyors.
What do you think of the new POB paywall? Are you going to subscribe? Or will you be dropping your subscription? Why?