Paywalls justifiable

From: The Sociable

From: The SociableI

Posted by: Sarah Fulton

I am currently paywalled from the online editions of The New York Times, The Kansas City Star, and The Des Moines Register. It is not a unique occurrence.

As a news addict, I love to spend hours surfing news sites gleaming little tidbits of information. Paywalls prevent me from doing this.  They steal my thunder and keep me off major news sites for weeks.However, as much as I want to, I cannot hate them.

A great deal of cost goes into producing publications and editors have to find a way to cover the costs. I have to defend paywalls even though, at times, they are the bane of my existence. 

I do not believe that news sites want paywalls anymore than I want them.

Many different types of paywalls have emerged that do not block readers from all content.  The hard paywall where content is only available upon subscription. The soft paywall in which basic content is available for free but premium content requires a subscription.  The metered paywall that limits the number of articles viewed per month.

New forms are still emerging as more publications try to make paywalls work. The Nation recently publishedan article detailing their new “experimental” paywall. For a few days after publication an article will be behind the paywall. Then it will be free for a limited time before going back behind the paywall.

 Not happy to simply explain the new set up, Audience Development and Digital Marketing Manager Katelyn Belyus also tried to justify the decision and the delay in the change. It is an example of a publication trying hard to consider their readers and their end goal while trying to pay the bills.

 The New York Times also tried to tackle the ethical issue of paywalls preventing readers from getting the news they need. When Hurricane Irene struck the east coast in 2011, The New York Times placed all storm related stories in front of their paywall. They repeated the practice again for Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and for coverage of the 2012 presidential election.

It comes down to the fact that nobody wants pay walls. The publications would love to make money without them. Readers would prefer not to have to deal with them.  However, they are where we as a society are at in paying for journalism. 

Do think there needs to be another solution? Are you willing to pay for good journalism? 


6 responses to “Paywalls justifiable

  1. Kristin Doherty

    I love that you point out how news sites also don’t want to put up paywalls, but it’s necessary to sustain the site. Journalists understand that part of their job is to get important information to the public, but they need to make a living off their work as well. I think that a lot of consumers don’t see it this way—they just think paywalls are a way for greedy news organizations to scam them of more money. It’s nice to see the other perspective here.

  2. My dad always says, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It would be amazing to read all the news we want with out limitations but the newspapers need to make money. It is not ideal for us college kids but I do understand why paywalls are in place.

  3. Thanks for your comments guys. I wonder however if there is an alternative way to improve revenue flows to online publications like increasing the effectiveness of advertisements.

  4. I think the difficulty with paywalls is that as a society we are used to obtaining “free” information, or information for a low cost. This can be through Google, news sites, informal blogs, or by receiving a newspaper inexpensively. One publication that seems to be effective in using paywalls is The Wall Street Journal. It will be interesting to see if others can replicate the model…

  5. I am currently paywalled by Des Moines Register, because you can view the website so many times. But there are times when I can’t get in at one moment, then the next day I can. Today I couldn’t get to Des Moines Register, but I am sure down the road I can access it.
    I don’t see any other way to make money online if they don’t put up a paywall. There are less people buying the paper edition, and more people are accessing the online edition. So the newspaper have to make money online somehow.

  6. Pingback: New York Times Paywall Strategy > Paying off? | Live Digital, Breathe Digital

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