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Build the (pay)wall!
Feb 22, 2019
2 minutes read

Some people shell out for Spotify, or Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

I am perfectly happy shelling out for news subscriptions.

In fact, next time I clear my browser cookies I will be needing to log back into a grand total of six paywalls…

  • ottawacitizen.com (a print subscription to which gives me free access to the next two.)
  • nationalpost.com
  • financialpost.com
  • wired.com
  • thestar.com (a deal from whom gives me low-cost access to the following one.)
  • wsj.com

Whew. So many. But why pay for something — news — that’s free all over the internet? It really comes down to personality. Namely, the fact I’m a complete newsy who’s basically gunning to meet his end by having a mountain of newsprint collapse onto him.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to recognize the benefits that come with paying for news and analysis.

A news organization behind a paywall, in theory, doesn’t have to worry about chasing clicks so can spend more time creating comprehensive information for their paying readers. For example, a Maine newspaper brought back local book reviews because people were willing to pay for them, even though they generated low traffic…

They’re also forced to invest more on quality content worth paying for. This means more in-depth work, which the news business is starting to notice people seem to value more than bite-sized content. A recent study on local news demonstrated that “audiences want and appreciate in-depth content, so the industry must provide it…in order to build credibility with the next generations.”

I find it makes me spend more time on the org’s website, which shelters me from the informational firehose that is social media (although I keep wired up on Twitter anyway.)

And it’s nice to know you’re helping to fund a critical function in society.

Journalism isn’t cheap. It takes time and guts.

And, “that work needs to be f*cking compensated!”, to quote a like-minded friend from work.

It’s been very encouraging to see so many news publishers find success with their paywalls. Like the New York Times, which has been profitable enough from their growing paywall model to now have on staff 1,600 journalists — the most they’ve ever had!

So build the paywall. I’m on board.


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