Site Administrator Of:

Supporter Of:


Paywalls will not be the print media’s Holy Grail

You may have noticed yesterday if you visited the Toronto Star that they have implemented their new paywall system. As with the Globe and Mail and others, you’re allowed a certain amount of free specific articles to view (with the Star I believe it is 10) before you’re then required to pay a subscription.

Not noticed as much was the Star also shuttered two websites of theirs that had previously been free, but which had earlier this year had pay walls put on them (30$ a month or something to that effect). The irony of that is obvious.

It will be interesting to see how many online readers of the Star will actually decide to pay to read it. The online pay wall is not the Holy Grail, however, as the shuttering of the other sites of the Star is a testament to. Charging to read online is in my opinion highly unlikely to stop declining profit margins for the print media as a whole. There are lots of free sites that people can still get their news or commentary at, and unless advertising revenues online go up (to match declining revenues in the newsprint section), the problem for the traditional print media remains.

I think the only ways pay walls will work (aside from making the security system a lot harder to break) is in my opinion the print side of the media totally ceases to function, and everyone goes digital/electronic. We may be coming to that point sooner then some think. The other possible way is for a group pay wall package, where people can pick and choose the articles or columns from individual papers as they so wish.. while opting out of parts of the specific news media they don’t wish to read -or pay for.


3 comments to Paywalls will not be the print media’s Holy Grail

  • I can see your reasoning that if the print side breaks down and there is only digital, pay walls will then work because after all, much of the news content is still initially generated/reported by the press and going through the pay wall will then be the only way to get it.

    But I don’t think it would work that way. I think there’s a collective action problem. Lots of people want there to be news, they’ll want the newspapers to keep existing (even if no longer on paper)–but! They won’t want it enough to individually pay. Everyone will try to free ride in some way or just read different stuff. In the end I think a lot of the major existing news sources will just shut down. This will not be an optimum result, although as a radical I see a silver lining or two. But there are lots of non-optimum results happening in this world.

  • Liam

    It’s proof they just don’t get it. Next, they’ll be chasing everyone for copyright of content, much like the music industry did (and failed) with downloaders.
    Time to step aside: let the new media folks have a turn.
    Policy? Start writing it based on tomorrow’s needs, not protecting yesterday’s media conglomerates.
    Of course, watch the Cons continue to spend loads of cash on subsidies (er … ad campaigns).
    Thank you!

unique visitors since the change to this site domain on Nov 12, 2008.