October 04, 2012

Smarter ideas for newspaper paywalls


Matthew Ingram at GigaOm appears to have a Jeff Jarvis/Clay Shirky/Jay Rosen paywall-hating burr up his ass.

But, as I told him, his anti-paywall complaint is too narrowly focused.

One could charge a minimal general rate, plus have a freemium on top of that. Or have a metered paywall, that works like cell phones, with a minimal rate to read anything, rather than the NYT (which is so leaky as to not have a paywall) and start the meter at 0, not 10, 20 or whatever, and then ramp up rates from there. Or to be more creative, to charge more for looking at videos and stuff, take a page directly from cell phones and charge by the time spent on a page. I’m assuming that that would be easy for newspaper IT staffs to set up.

Beyond that, the real problem, of course, is that the Associated Press, largely under the leadership of the idiotic Dean Singleton, didn’t have a clue about the Internet and undercharged news aggregators for running AP material.

Since this isn’t Matt’s first anti-paywall post, in a separate comment, I said:
What’s obvious is that you, like Shirky, Rosen and other new media “gurus,” simply hate paywalls.

As for Jeff Jarvis? My left butt cheek knows more. Serious(ly), as for any specific ideas (h)e discusses, I’d Google Evgeny Morozov to see if he has some sarcastic takedown, first.
And, that’s the bottom line.

Beyond that, this is a “framing issue.” A metered paywall, a freemium wall, or anything other than a straight paywall can always be reverse-framed as a “membership” program. Hell, you can even give away PBS/NPR-type tchotchkes, if you want.

Update: Columbia Journalism Review totally agrees with me.

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