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Why paywalls won't help most big newspapers

Talking To A Brick Wall
Image by Joriel “Joz” Jimenez via Flickr

The paywall discussion is in full force at my job (Gazette Communications) and my buddy and I were discussing the idea of adding a paywall to our electronic edition yesterday at lunch.  Funny – as the exact same thing we were talking about was pointed to in this Boing-Boing post:

The critical point here is that advertising is still what makes money for news, even when there’s a cover charge. Paywalls aren’t just sold to readers. They must be sold to advertisers. Paid walls make the eyeballs behind them much more valuable.

It will just be very interesting to see how long the paywall phenomenon lasts – i may well be a short term solution, but the problem is a super long term one.

To succeed with paywalls, then, publishers need not only an established monopoly on something valuable (local news, scoops, reporting quality) but also a plan to translate that into advertiser interest. Paywalls alone, unless they are ridiculously expensive, just won’t be enough.

Either way – I’m sure we’ll do it.  I wish we wouldn’t, I’m not sure we’ve looked at the complete array of options objectively yet.  Wish us well.  :)

Why paywalls won’t help most big newspapers

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