Posted on June 30, 2006
Free wi-fi: That’s a REAL community idea
What an amazingly smart idea: FREE wi-fi from your local newspaper.
As described by PaidContent (found by way of Journerdism) the idea is that The Pilot will give free wireless Internet access to all of Moore County, North Carolina, and also offer (separately) a pay package of WiMax.
What’s totally brilliant about this is that every free wi-fi network I have used automatically takes you to its own Web page as soon as you try to connect. ITS OWN WEB PAGE. As in, the home page of the newspaper! Or better yet — I think this would be much better — a very bare-bones Google-like page with no more than six headlines, one great photo, and EXACTLY ONE very high-priced clickable ad that does not animate, move, leave cookies, or do any other stupid or offensive ad tricks.
Would that be awesome? Everybody in your whole community would see your page EVERY TIME they logged in! The ad spot — if you do it right, without the garbage, and make it a single spot, no competition — could pay for the whole operation after the first few months.
Of course, most corporate types would go in and completely screw it up the first day, by making the page bloated and impossible to use — just like 95 percent of the newspaper site home pages in the U.S. today. But in my dream of the perfect way to finally guarantee an income for your online site — by giving away free wireless AND using an intelligently designed (fast loading) TEASER page to attract people to your other stuff — in my dream, this would be foolproof.
This idea is so incredibly perfect, I can hardly believe no one else thought of it before the folks at The Pilot. They have my undying admiration as of today.
UPDATE (4:41 p.m.) — Here’s the story from The Pilot itself. More details there.
CORRECTION (July 7): Moore County, not Monroe County.