Newspapers And The Saywall: Lots Of Talking… Few Paywalls
from the just-do-it dept
All year long we’ve been hearing story after story of newspapers insisting that they’re going to implement a paywall and make readers pay like they used to. Of course, the idea that they ever paid for the news is a myth, but to date the bigger myth seems to be that newspapers are going to start charging. Sure, there are a few that have been charging for a while, but for all the talk about paywalls, they’ve really just been “saywalls.” No one’s actually made a move. Alan Mutter seems to be suggesting that the folks who run newspapers are all pretty much paralyzed by fear. They know that charging will kill off ad revenue, and they’re not really convinced that the paywall will fix that. They’re right. Putting up a paywall is a dumb strategy that will fail for all but a very small number of publications. So why are they all talking about it without doing it? My guess is it’s a signaling method. They’re hoping that if they can sort of peer pressure each other into it, a bunch of papers may all do it at once and there would be some sort of safety in numbers. In reality, it’s a failure of understanding the basic business they’re in, and a timid response, rather than a smart one. It’s frustrating, but the answer is for newspapers to shut up or put up. If they say they want a paywall, put it up, and let’s watch it fail. Or if they want a real strategy, they should try giving us a call, and we’ll lend them a hand.