Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Seriously, Runner's World?

Every morning as I drink my coffee, I go through my email, mostly weeding through the endless spam. Along with the news briefs from The Skimm, The New York Times, and CNN,  I read the daily news brief from Runner's World. The messages usually contain about 5 links to articles ranging from scientific, to informative, and humorous. One of the articles is usually clickbait, linking to something Runner's World is selling. There's also always an ad for some running related product. Quite often I'll click on one of the articles.

Last week, I clicked on an article about a runner with Crohn's disease. "I had flares that lasted two weeks and flares that lasted two years", claimed the quote beneath the photo of a smiling female runner. She was holding a finisher's medal from NYCM. Of course, I was interested! I have rheumatoid arthritis and I am a medical professional. These are the kind of real world stories I enjoy. I clicked on the picture and my browser opened, the photo on the article blurred, and a message appeared.
"Uh oh! Looks like you hit the wall! Bust through it with Runner's World +" 
Runner's World +? What the heck? As I read the fine print, I learned that if I wanted to click through the ad to the article, I'd have to sign up for a subscription service that would allow me to read unlimited articles each month. Seriously, Runner's World?



I've had issues with Runner's World's online presence for a while. While there's no disputing that RW offers quality content for runners, over the past couple of years, the advertising has taken over their web page. So much so, that reading articles on RW online has become very difficult. In the past, the RW website was so full of pop-up ads that my computer would slow down and eventually freeze. Then along came a giant advertisement banner which opened up over the article. As I'd scroll through the article, the banner would move down along with the text. It was really distracting, which I guess was the point, but made it difficult to read and process what I was reading.

Now, "Runner's World +", where you have to pay to read online content. I guess they're taking a page from big newspapers like The New York Times, which limits the number of articles readers can view per month. I don't like it, but I get that. It's the New York Times! Plus, while ads do appear alongside the articles on the NYT website, those ads aren't as intrusive as the ones that appear on Runner's World.

Runner's World, you're no New York Times.

I understand the need to make money. There are writers to pay, offices to maintain, races to run. But wait...almost every day, one of those articles in my email is touting some new shoe or product promising to improve my running. Call me a cynic, but those articles scream of paid advertising. Seeing those articles makes me wonder how real are those product ratings we've all come to rely upon? Are those Brooks Transcend 6 really the softest stability shoe yet? Or did they pay you to say that? Do the shoe companies pay you to review their shoes? Can we trust you anymore?

Runner's World, do you want me to pay to read your content? Let me ask you this...if I sign up for a subscription, are the pop-up ads going to disappear? That horrible banner that readers had to scroll through to read an article--will that still be there? Do you promise to have product reviews free of influence from manufacturers? Without all the running experts who used to write for you--for example, Amby Burfoot, Alex Hutchinson, Mark Remy, and Bart Yasso, why should we pay to read articles written by freelance writers who may not even be runners?

Looks like RW's got some 'splainin' to do. Until then, I'll be looking elsewhere for my running information.

Seriously, Runner's World? Pay for online content? It's a DNF for me says @oldrunningmom @runnersworld #runchat #running

Do you read Runner's World online? Will you pay for access to their articles? What do you think about paying to read online content when ads are already present on the page?

I'm linking up with Kim at Kooky Runner and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics.


53 comments :

  1. The second I see an ad pop up or something that is clearly click-bait, I move on. I can't stand all of that stuff. Even in print-magazines, if any article is marked with "Advertisement" in small letters at the top of the page, I don't read it.

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    1. I can't believe that RW is doing this. For a niche magazine, it seems really ridiculous. I'm glad there is so much good running content elsewhere online.

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  2. I dislike RW. I used to get their magazines but their content/quality isn’t good anymore (at least not to me). No, I wouldn’t pay for access to their articles.

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    1. I do enjoy some of their content but I am not going to pay to read RW online.

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  3. Oh wow - I didn't even know this! I still get their magazine - I got a good deal on a 3 year subscription - but I've been a little disappointed with both their online and magazine content lately. I feel like it was much better a few years ago but now it's a lot of fluff - especially some of their online posts.

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    1. I do still get their magazine as part of my CARA membership but I rarely read it. I'll usually go through the pile every couple of months and it doesn't take me long--fluff is right!

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  4. In a world where you can get expert content on running from multiple sources, I would never pay to get "extra" from RW. I'm sorry to say it but my love has been lost for RW for a while now :-( and this is just one more step in the wrong direction. I mean, I understand they are struggling like every other news outlet, but don't make your readers pay the price. I do still (and probably always will) get the magazine in the mail but I definitely will not pay extra for the online content like I do for The Washington Post!

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    1. My feelings exactly! The quality of content on RW has declined steadily. When they discontinued Running Times, the writing was on the wall. What a shame!

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  5. That is too bad . . . I have stopped reading it over the years (hard copy) because, well, "meh" ... and every once in a while will read online if I have googled for a topic and it pops up . . . would never pay. good luck to them with that ;-)

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    1. Exactly! There are so many other reputable sources online--why would anyone pay for it?

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  6. I like some of the articles in their newsletter but I won't pay extra for it! I still read the magazine and though it's repetitive, I still enjoy it as a skim. The click bait and format is weird. I was hoping that would improve. I guess not! :(

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  7. I stopped trying to read RW on line for all the reasons you noted. I am a huge believer in paying for good content -- but not click bait, fluff, or advertainment. I can see how paid sites still needads -- just like print ads in a paper you buy -- but like those ads they should stay on the side.

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    1. It's clear to me that RW doesn't care about its readers anymore--they just want $$ from advertisers. It's not surprising--all their good writers left or retired. That was the first clue that things were changing.

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  8. I reluctantly purchased the subscription to their online content plus magazine. I don't like their newer, fluffier content, but I use their older content frequently, especially the archives from Running Times. I balked at it at first, especially with all their ads (although now with the subscription, I haven't encountered as many pop-ups). I do refuse to read any clickbait or product review articles.
    I've also dealt with (and written for) who online publications don't want to pay freelance writers. It's a total slap in the face to not be paid (or worse, be paid in "exposure" - which does not pay the mortgage) after going through the process of pitching, writing, and editing. If a subscription increases the chances of RW will pay their writers fairly, then I'll pay them.

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    1. You make excellent points here. Hopefully, RW is using some of their profits to pay quality writers to pen their articles. That remains to be seen, with some of the more fluffy content they've been posting!

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  9. Very annoying! I used to have a subscription but then like with all hobby mags (my husband's fish mag did the same!) they started having the same subjects round and round and nothing new!

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  10. I haven't run into that yet, and no, I wouldn't pay to read them online. I do get it, print magazines are a dying breed although I actually still love my print magazine (although my RW subscription lapsed & I haven't reupped -- no particular reason why).

    I'm willing to put up with some advertising but yes, some sites are so bad you just can't read the post. When I link to stuff, I try to avoid articles like that (but who knows what happens eventually?).

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    1. Accuweather is particularly bad--their mobile site works ok for me, but the online site doesn't move either on my laptop at home or my PC at work. There are so many ads it won't load. It's out of control

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  11. Yes, yes, yes! I feel the same way about Runners' World. They have become all about advertising. I even cancelled my subscription to the print magazine for the same reason. The website used to have a free running log, free training programs, etc, which they no longer have. I used to go on their website every day to log my runs, and I wound up clicking on some of the articles too. they have good writers, or at least they used to.It's a shame, because it seems like there are fewer and fewer reasons to visit the website. I think they got greedy!

    Sorry for such a rant!

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    1. No need to apologize--you read my rant! Clearly, we aren't alone in this.

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  12. I just ran into that earlier this week and was surprised by it too! I know that seems to be the way the newspaper industry is going, and like you said, I get that they have to cover their costs, but Runner's World is not a major newspaper and I don't think I've seen smaller niche magazines do that yet.

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    1. It was a first for me, as far as magazines go. I hope this isn't a trend.

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  13. YUP YUP YUP!
    And I'm peeved because I'm a print subscriber and they've cut the number of issues without giving me comparable digital access. It's a shame, because some of their content is good. I'm about to dump all the e-mails I'd saved because I clearly won't be able to read them without giving them more money. No thanks

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    1. I'm really curious how many people are going to pay to read. Should be interesting!

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  14. I find this absolutely ridiculous! I already pay for the magazine subscription which, like the newsletter, has become mostly ads. If I already pay for that, I think I should have access to the articles. Now they want me to pay an $30 a year ha no way

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    1. And the only digital option is an iPad -- which I don't have. So bizarre

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    2. Oh weird/wonderful. I emailed them and they specifically said iPad only. No Kindle Fire or "other unauthorized". Whatever that means

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  15. This does not surprise me at all. Especially when so many magazines and newspapers are adding digital content.

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    1. It did surprise me but I guess it shouldn't have. It's all about $$.

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  16. After probably 10 years (or more?) of getting RW,I cancelled my subscription almost a year ago. The updates they'd done were terrible, and I really missed all of the famous runners (that you mentioned). Too many ads, the layouts were bad, yadda yadda yadda. Last summer, somehow, it started coming to me again. I don't think they charged me for it, but the label says my "subscription" is good for awhile yet. SO, I have been reading it, briefly. Why did they mess with a good thing? I don't bother trying to read such stuff online because the ads drive me crazy.

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    1. Runner's World was bought by a big publisher and that's when the focus changed from being a serious publication for runners to a money-making publication for running shoes. In fact, I just received a new copy in the mail yesterday and guess what? More shoe reviews.

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  17. I used to get the real magazine years ago, then let it go after I felt like I was basically reading the same things over and over again. I do get emails from them and occasionally click through. You’re so right about the ads. They drive me crazy! I haven’t been asked to pay yet, so maybe it’s been a while since I clicked through. I definitely will not be paying. There is too much good free information available from other reliable sources.

    On another note, I’m so glad you finally have a Click to Tweet! It makes it so easy to share. Now you just need to set it up so your username is in the tweet. 😊

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    1. Oh thank you for that!!! I finally figured out how to write the code, but I will put my username in there from now on.

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  18. I was looking for this! I bought my wife a subscription probably seven years ago, and I read it because I like to read and love shoes. Because of it, I've started running, and I read all of their health and wellness articles practically. I hit this paywall the other day and all I could think was, you have to be kidding me! The magazine is half the size it was a year ago to begin with, not even offered 12 times a year anymore, and now you want me to pay $50 a year for your ad/articles? My paper subscription isn't even a dollar an issue, but you think $50 a year for content I can easily find for free is reasonable? Runner's World needs a change of staff if they're going to survive. I feel like I'm watching Major League, and the people in charge want to ruin the mag so they can start the magazine they really want.

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    1. I've been running for a long time and to see what has happened to my long time favorite resource for all things running is just heartbreaking. It's pretty clear to me that RW's mission isn't to provide information and support to runners, it's all about $$. What a shame.

      And by the way, my beloved Cubs are leaving their long time TV station in pursuit of pay-per-view for baseball. It's sickening.

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  19. I used to like reading Runner's World's articles, but I mean a lot of them are repetitive, notwithstanding all the pop-up's. I agree they're not on the level of the NY Times or Washington Post!

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    1. I have used RW and Running Times for references for many blog posts. I will not pay for that information--there is a lot of good information out there. It's just going to be a little harder to find.

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  20. I stopped reading their articles when they posted the one about banditing a race. They had some interesting stuff from time to time but that was kind of it for me. The pop ups were super annoying but if I still read the site and then got hit with a pay wall, that would have been it for me.

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    1. That article was completely inappropriate for a running publication! RW took a lot of flack for that. It's clear they've lost their mission.

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  21. Wild! It's surprising that they would do that but I guess there are a lot of changes going on since many people don't read print magazines anymore.

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  22. I just encountered this and was shocked. I too am a magazine subscriber and read that they were providing different type of content in their magazine because everything was available online....and now they expect me to pay more to access the information online. Not a chance.

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  23. I unsubscribed from RW's 2 billion daily emails years ago and rarely look at their online site. I feel like their info is more of the same continuously repackaged. The publication I really enjoyed was Running Times but that went away years ago.
    There was a woman with RA claiming her 6th WMM star in Tokyo. :D

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    1. I liked the email blurbs and would click through if there was something new or intriguing. But no more.

      Hooray for the RA runner! I need more info....

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  24. I couldn't agree more. I used to go to their online forums every day back in the 2007-2010 timeframe. But then they installed new forum software that was so clunky to use and the ads became 10x more prevalent. So I stopped going there. Now I only go there if I am googling something and an article of theirs happens to appear in the search results.

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  25. If you browse through Chrome, you can open an "incognito tab" and bypass the paywall. I loved Running Times, they really should have moved more in that direction when the two merged.

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    1. This is such helpful advice! And I agree with your about RT. RW is just fluff.

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