businessmodels · futurejournalism

News like porn – the ongoing ‘charging for online news’ debate

The queen of blogs, Arianna Huff, has continued the pay for online news debate – reopened by Murdoch a few weeks ago –  by claiming:

Unless you’re selling porn — especially weird porn — I would not go the subscription route.

That is of course unless people want news like they want porn, something News Ltd newspapers will need to consider if Murdoch has his way. Plenty has been written on the perils of ‘erecting pay walls’ via subscriptions or other methods for online news, but Zachary Seward at the Nieman Journalism Lab has a few points that he says are often overlooked in this debate.

I am particularly interested in his point- Pay walls aren’t necessarily intended to generate revenue. Seward claims they are about protecting the print edition. Is that really a future model? Protect a newspaper and disenfranchise your readership, who will end up going elsewhere online to get their news anyway.  Seward does admit “it’s obviously not a great longterm strategy. But when we consider whether pay walls will work, it’s important to realise that newspaper executives may have a different definition of success here. But his final point – Even if pay walls are the future of newspapers, they aren’t the future of news – so what exactly are we saving then?

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