Daily Variety: We're Putting In A Paywall So We Don't Have To Write About Gossip

from the pay-us-so-we-can-hire-a-proofreader dept

Andy Marx writes in to share a letter Daily Variety magazine sent to its subscribers, letting them know that it will soon be putting up a paywall, or as it prefers to call it, a "velvet rope".
The reason for the switch is simple: There has been a boom in showbiz coverage, but much of it is hearsay and spin, making it hard for readers to separate rumors from truth. A lot of the "reporting" has become more sensational as many of our online peers have been lured by the notion of bringing in more consumer eyeballs (and, they hope, more ad money). At Variety, we are apologetically focused on people in the industry. Think of the paywall as a velvet rope, allowing you access to stories that have been confirmed by impartial sources and stories that will better inform you about the world you're working in. Denied access behind the rope are items based on gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants.
So it would appear that publications face a choice: put up paywalls, or write about "gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants". It's really not clear what one has to do with the other; after all, Variety can write about whatever it wants, how it tries to charge for it is a completely separate matter. What's really amusing though, is that Variety is basically trying to dress up its paywall as some guarantee of quality for readers. In essence, it's saying "since we are charging for this, you know it must be good." But when its full letter to subscribers contains seven typos, it looks like Variety is more interested in having the appearance of quality and authority than actually having quality content.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Big_Mike (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 5:10am

    That reminds me of a Sub-Contractor my dad used to use with a name like "Quality Construct" or something to the like. The guy did poor work on one of the jobs and my dad told him "Dude, Take the out of your name and put it in your work"

    Some people will pay for that and if they follow through it might be worth it to pay. What would be nice is if they debunked rumors and half truths too, that would be worth it I think.

     

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  2.  
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    Big_Mike (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 5:12am

    Re:

    That was take the quality out of you work btw :o)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    scottbp, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 5:53am

    connects and reasons

    Isn't this just a basic attempt to connect with their audience and give them a reason to buy?
    Connecting by trying to establish a link that that audience and publication are both tired of the rumour mill and then offering a better cleaner experience for a few $£€?

     

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  4.  
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    John Doe, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:01am

    Re: connects and reasons

    What is the reason to buy? After all, they were free. Does this mean they were reporting rumors before and now want to clean up their act?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:04am

    Re: connects and reasons

    Problem is that Variety may disappear from lack of notice behind a velvet rope in it's own little cavern. Relatively few concerns have content worthy of a high price of admission.

     

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  6.  
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    JJ, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:12am

    So wait... they're basically saying, "We're going to start charging money for the content that nobody wanted even when it was free." Huh??

     

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  7.  
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    LumpyDog (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: connects and reasons

    I agree with you. More power to them if they can really guarantee a higher level of quality, and if they can convince subscribers to pay for it.

    I have doubts, given that their press release reads like a load of B.S., but at least they're trying something different than the usual paywall excuses.

     

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  8.  
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    Michael, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:30am

    Re:

    That's what I read too. I think it says something like "The other guys are giving away content full of gossip because that attracts a lot of people. We intend to lock up the rest of the stuff and charge for it."

     

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  9.  
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    Comboman (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re:

    To be a little more charitable, what they're saying is "To make money from advertising, we would need to appeal to the lowest common denominator to get the maximum number of page views. Instead, we have quality niche content which some people will be willing to pay for." I don't know if it will work for them, but it might. Variety is to the entertainment industry what the Wall Street Journal is to the financial industry. Sure, the average reader won't pay for it, but they're not really the target market, and the people in that market have lots of extra money to spend on subscription fees.

     

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  10.  
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    Simon, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So I'd be paying NOT to get nip slips?? *confused*

     

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  11.  
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    Krusty, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Sleazy tabloids

    And these sleazy muckraking dirt bags are important why?

     

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  12.  
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    Griper, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:15am

    Decline in journalism

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    they have created difference in the marketplace. they dont want to compete with tmz or perez hilton on tittay journalism. like the wsj they are a superior product intended for a better class of reader. cwf+rtb. they have fans and the rtb is to get what you cannot get on rumor sites. the masnick hates paywalls so much he cant see his own logic at work.

     

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  14.  
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    RD, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Uh...fail

    "they have fans and the rtb is to get what you cannot get on rumor sites. the masnick hates paywalls so much he cant see his own logic at work."

    Then you really dont understand cwf+rtb or the principle behind it. a paywall is NOT A REASON TO BUY. There is no "reason" in that for the person paying for it. Its just a misguided attempt at a money-grab and control. This is NOT a rtb.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "and the people in that market have lots of extra money to spend on subscription fees."

    The people on Long Island have alot of money, and News Day only had 35 pay subscribers.

     

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    Jupiter (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:53am

    Goodbye Variety, hello Hollywood Report. Gee, that was easy.

     

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  17.  
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    CMK (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    That was: Take the "Quality" out of your name and put it into your work.
    I can see that poor old Big Mike is having QC issues.

     

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  18.  
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    CMK (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 7:55am

    Re:

    That's how I read it, too. ;)

     

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  19.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    Ah, yes. "Variety", the caviar of useless tripe.

    Even if they did have visible standards of corroboration, they're still pushing ho-hos to diabetics.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Re:

    No, they have to compete with this:

    http://www.deadline.com/hollywood/

     

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  21.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 11:03am

    Glass houses?

    "But when its full letter to subscribers contains seven typos, it looks like Variety is more interested in having the appearance of quality and authority than actually having quality content."

    Because any typos/omissions/grammatical mistakes are an obvious sign of a lack of quality, right Mike?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Glass houses?

    Who would charge for typos/omissions/grammatical mistakes?

     

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  23.  
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    Wesha (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Actually...

    ... they should have put gossip BEHIND the paywall. People are known to be willing to pay for gossip!

     

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  24.  
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    ren, Apr 13th, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    "So it would appear that publications face a choice: put up paywalls, or write about "gossip, half-truths and anonymous rants"

    Fox News!!!!

     

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  25.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Uh...fail

    but the "superior quality" is a reason to buy.

    ...if the audience believes it.

    Doesn't matter if it's true or not.

     

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  26.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Glass houses?

    Nope. But there is a reasonable limit, at which point it starts to look sloppy. Seven in a published letter is over that line.

    You don't think so?

     

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  27.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Apr 13th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Don't Agree With Mike Entirely

    When Mike writes, "Variety is more interested in having the appearance of quality and authority..."

    I would argue that that might be enough. What they are trying to do is just manage perception in the marketplace. If they can get their audience to believe that the velvet rope section is higher quality content - THAT CAN'T BE FOUND thus written arranged and edited in other rags, then that is a Reason to Buy.

    And by also offering the open section, they still capture the eyeballs and readership that unlocked content attracts.

    And it doesn't even matter if it's true or not, so long as they create the perception of quality, some people will pay to get in. Just like Monster cable can charge more for the same copper.

    Mike's arguments against paywalls usually rely on the fact that the content can be found for free, elsewhere - and everyone knows it. Well, what if they create the perception that it cannot?

    I'm not saying they will succeed, but Monster cable sure has. As have most other luxury brands that sell occasionally better goods at vastly inflated prices.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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