The first user of the paid obit checks is LancasterOnline which says that "If you are a frequent visitor, staying in touch with our community, you may read seven obituaries for free each month."
Here's a link to another interesting column about the changing service.This includes lots of statistics on which the newspaper is basing its decision.
Just a couple days ago I told a group of fellow genealogists that it was interesting to read both the St. Paul and Minneapolis newspapers online from Friday evening until Monday morning and see little local news. It's like living, crime, accidents, and other events stop for that time period. But we know it really doesn't stop. The newspapers are only published once a day and on the weekends the staffing has been cut to the barest minimum. No longer are we being kept informed of our local area -- well, unless a TV news story or an Associated Press article can be reported in the newspaper. Truly, the local flavor is going, going, going . . .
I guess I like the local funeral homes that also publish obituaries on their websites -- and so far do so at no charge. After all, the families or the funeral home compile the obituary and send it electronically. In today's world the work for the newspaper has been cut back.
Many newspapers will not post news about upcoming events (even with text and photos provided for free) but will send a reporter to the event and publish the article after the event. How is that helpful? So, if I ran a newspaper -- oh wait, I wear enough hats already.
So, my wish is that newspapers don't become like the airlines. Keep good customer service. Charge if the bottom line requires. But give us lots of the news we are looking for. Tell us about upcoming events so that we may attend them. If you are going to charge to publish obits and then charge someone extra to look at them, charge equally for other info. Hmmm -- do sports teams or city councils get charged to post news about their activities or events? But the grieving family does and then might have to pay to access what it paid to have published. Off my soapbox.