Rupert Murdoch's Paywall Disaster: Readers, Advertisers, Journalists & Publicists All Hate It

from the and-it's-working-for-who-exactly? dept

We had already seen the early indications that Rupert Murdoch’s paywalls from The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK were a dismal failure, but as more information gets leaked about how the paywalls are working out, it’s looking worse and worse. Beyond the fact that not too many people are signing up to pay, the move has upset advertisers who don’t want to advertise to such a small audience:

Faced with a collapse in traffic to thetimes.co.uk, some advertisers have simply abandoned the site. Rob Lynam, head of press trading at the media agency MEC, whose clients include Lloyds Banking Group, Orange, Morrisons and Chanel, says, “We are just not advertising on it. If there’s no traffic on there, there’s no point in advertising on there.” Lynam says he has been told by News International insiders that traffic to The Times site has fallen by 90 per cent since the introduction of charges.

On top of that, various PR people and publicists are keeping their sources away from Times reporters, preferring to provide access to news organizations where the story might actually get seen by people, rather than locked up behind Murdoch’s paywall:

Publicists have told me that clients are increasingly reluctant to give interviews or stories to The Times, on the grounds that they would not be made freely available via search engines.

Oh yeah, and because of all of that, journalists at the papers aren’t very happy either. None of this should be a surprise, of course. Many folks, including us, warned that this would happen. Murdoch and his supporters keep trying to spin a happy story about the paywall, and are expected to release some official data soon, but the feedback coming out already suggests that rather than “saving” his newspapers, this action may have sped up the troubles they face.

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Comments on “Rupert Murdoch's Paywall Disaster: Readers, Advertisers, Journalists & Publicists All Hate It”

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93 Comments
Marcus Carab (profile) says:

You know, the truly sad and astonishing thing is that they couldn’t resist doing it, even though it was blatantly obvious that this would happen.

Every single publication that is going the paywall route has plenty of experienced businessmen around who could see this coming a mile away, just like Techdirt and half of the internet did. I don’t know whether they willfully ignored the obvious, or if they were really so deep in denial that they couldn’t consciously acknowledge it… but it’s pretty damn pathetic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’ve actually figured out why this happens.

The company I currently work for has a consultant (let’s call him Andy) they use for “expert” advice. He’s been involved in instigating numerous projects that everyone in the business, strategy and IT think are a waste of money, and can show why they’re a waste of money.

We then implement said projects because the powers above force us to.

The project fails because it was pointless/stupid/ill conceived/whatever and the powers above ask us how we fucked it up so badly.

We then point to the consultant who turns around and says. “Hey guys, I just give advice I didn’t actually tell you to do it”

Oddly enough, he’s been getting away with it for eight years and counting.

My conclusion is many, many business have an “Andy” who “advises” on the best course of action. The problem is, none of the senior decision makers seem to realise “Andy” is only acting in his own best interests and that involves generating more work for his company. Usually at the expense of your own company.

Tom Clarke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, that’s not what happened at News Corp. The problem there is that they have an old man still sort of running things. He hates the internet because he doesn’t understand it. So rather than listen to the experts who have said “Don’t do it, it won’t work!”, the company has been forced to go along with the pet project of a past-it figurehead.

Jay (profile) says:

There's a problem that occurs...

When everyone is thinking the same thing. No matter if it’s a good idea or bad, no one is allowed to speak up. Even if they do, the main thing that’ll occur is their voice is muted to the reality.

So basically with Murdoch the best thing we could do is nothing at all. Might as well let him smack himself on the reality of the pavement than try to ease him down back to common sense territory.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hostility in adland is far more uniform. Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising group WPP, last week emphatically endorsed the principle of news-papers charging for their stories online. “We think paywalls are essential, because we think giving away content for free, particularly if consumers value that content, makes no sense,” he said. “Consumers have to pay for content they value.”

This guy is a big-name chief executive? He doesn’t seem to have a very clear grasp of business or economics.

If a user is reading your content, they are providing you with something: their attention. You turn around and sell that attention to advertisers like WPP. How can an advertising exec afford to be so obtuse that they ignore this notion entirely?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Possibly a reverse meaning.

He might be outwardly promoting paywalls, but internally just finding ways to sell advertising more cheaply.

Newspapers, like any industry, basically have a set rate which they charge for advertising. If they hurt themselves by creating a paywall, an advertiser can either drop them and look for better advertising space somewhere else or they will negotiate for cheaper advertising costs with the dropping of the paywall. Advertiser wins, newspaper loses, and newspaper has to also find a way to get back readership of the people.

Badvertisinguy (profile) says:

Elite Power Masters Insist They Can They Bend Us

….to their way of thinking and bilking us for every last nickle and penny.

Billionaires like Sir Martin Sorrell and Rupert Murdoch are used to making the world suit their means, and the internet is their greatest challenge because its so unwieldy. Their greatest goal right now must be to end net neutrality — it’s the only way their grand schemes will work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problem is the content costs too much to be effectively given away for free (or supported by ads, which are easily blocked and do not provide much revenues in any event), ignoring even the bandwidth and server costs to deliver the content. Murdoch was hoping the other media outlets would follow suit, and if they did, his plan would have worked – but they didn’t.

Interestingly, if all of the private businesses providing news content (as opposed to those who use the content of others) go bankrupt, the state-supported news agencies (VoA, AFP, Xinhua, RT, etc.) will be the only ones left. Of course the governments of these various countries are far more democratic than any of the “private” news organizations, par. the Murdoch ones ….

william (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You can make the world’s most expensive and costly something all you want.

However, if the market or people are willing to pay $1 for it, then it’s only worth one dollar, no matter how much it cost to produce.

What the solution?

Well, either
1) make it the most desirable object by marketing or any other kind of kool-aid and people will pay anything you want them to pay. e.g. The Apple Method
2) make it cheaper or less costly to produce so you can cover cost. These methods varies case by case and some has been discussed here.

Obviously, no one want to drink kool-aid from Murdock, so he needs to use 2.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This basically eliminates the possibility of local news coverage – you would be stuck with national and international.

Personally I think micropayments is an idea that needs to be re-investigated, that when you go to a site it can easily charge you a micro amount to your Internet wallet. I wouldn’t mind paying a few cents to a nickel for each news story I read, provided I did not have to go through a complex sign-up process or pay flat rates ….

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, I thought we were arguing national, so I was adding point 3 as a way of paying for the content discussed by William as “You can make the world’s most expensive and costly something all you want.” But if you want to shift it to local…

For local, you’d have to focus on the cost side of the equation as well. You’d have to lower production values. And this is something we’ve seen in every local paper and local TV station as compared to national news. The best-hair anchors are national. So this is already done.

You’d have to leverage some low cost content to fill out your locally produced content. And this is something we have seen for years, with wire content filling out local papers.

Producing local news has always been a financial challenge, but one that has been solved. And web news is less of a threat to local than national. It often is STILL more efficient to get local news through a local newspaper than the web. ex: If I search for “new potholes” in Google, I’m unlikely to find the new holes in roads in my town. However, my local free rag has the pothole rundown, and pays for it with local ads. Local ads are also very valuable, because they are actionable with a short drive. I am unlikely to respond to a national barbershop ad, located in Cincinnati – given that I live in CA.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Everyone [Rupert] Wants Advertising Money For Free

Let me turn that around for you. Let’s take on the persona of an advertiser, say ACME group:

At ACME, we bring tremendous value to your newspapers, Murdoch. We give you the money that keeps the journalists paid, and keeps the lights on. All I ask of you is that you deliver me an audience, and I’ll keep giving you the money.

But now, you want my money for free? You want to cut the audience by 90% and you expect me to continue paying your bills? [and paraphrasing anon coward] “Take a serious look at the money I’m providing, and how much of an audience it would take to make it worth it.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It works for Google and Yahoo b/c they live off exploiting other people’s content, they don’t create their own.

Since when is Windows 7 or Office 2010 ad-supported?

Since when has FB made any money? Maybe they will make some in the future, but, like Google and Yahoo, they don’t create content – they just create a software environment, which is vastly cheaper than having to hire people to write news stories.

revenue model options says:

if no paywall, then what?

so if paywalls aren’t going to work, what does it say about efforts from donation sites like kachingle (kachingle.com) or flattr (flattr.com – used here)?

what about thankthis (thankthis.com), the no charge option, that Mike covered last week?
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100830/13072810827.shtml

Are there other/better options?

Marcel de Jong (profile) says:

Re: if no paywall, then what?

Paywalls and kachingle or flattr are two entirely different entities
Paywalls restrict you from viewing the content until you pay.
and with the other two, you pay after you’ve read the content.
See the difference?

but other ways of making money online is going the google route, or provide an extra service no-one else delivers for a fee.

James says:

Its called disruptive technology

If your business model is based on an old-school content distribution model then then internet is a disruptive technology (just ask the recording industry).

But rather than fight to preserve that which is dying off, you have to find a new way to thrive. A pay content model can work if you provide people with a service for which they are willing to pay.

And while we’re on the topic why is the times accepting advertising if they are on a pay model? If I pay to subscribe I shouldn’t have to put up with advertising.

Mike, while its less dramatic rather than present bone-headed ideas like trying to get folks to pay for news that essentially is advertiser-supported and meant to be free, why not show a few examples where a pay model can and does work for this type of content? Hmmm.. maybe none exist. LOL

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Its called disruptive technology

“why not show a few examples where a pay model can and does work for this type of content? Hmmm.. maybe none exist. LOL”

1) sex and things that get you laid
2) things that you can write off on your taxes
3) things that make you money
4) things that a required for work

Those are the things you can put a pay wall up for.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think the ol’ media will die, and the newer players will dominate the field.

Apple, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Tweeter, Craiglist and others are players that know how to make money on the internet and they will supply whatever it needs to continue to do so, even if all news papers got under those players would pay for news like they are paying for music and video in a small way but growing.

In a few words “Mr. Murdoch is murdering his assets”

I almost few sorry for people who will be dependent on Apple, old Steve is notorious for his control tendencies bearing insanity, I also worry about the dynamics this will have but since ol’media seems incapable of adapting someone will take their place and I do think those better positioned are established internet business.

The Mad Hatter (profile) says:

Murdoch is old school

And that is the problem. He grew up, and learned his business skills in a different time, with different rules, and he’s not able to adapt to the new reality.

I feel sorry for the people who work for him. He’s not going to admit that he’s the one at fault. He’s going to blame someone else.

The best thing his employees can do is to start job hunting. Actually they should have the second he mentioned his paywall idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

It doesn't have to be this way

I know Techdirt hates the concept of micropayments but that’s exactly what the news industry needs. The problem with most internet content business models is that it’s not easy to pay. When you walk up to a street news vendor to pick up the morning paper, does the vendor then hand you a form asking for your name, address, phone number and asking you to setup an account name and password with your email address so he can send you your account creation verification email (which you have to click on to verify your account). At which point he asks you if he can copy down your credit card number to make future newspaper purchases more convenient?

No, buying things on the internet is way too bothersome. The government needs to institute an electronic cash system where you can make a simple click and buy the 50 cent daily paper, downloaded to your device of choice. No user-names and passwords to keep track of. No link to your bank account. A government backed gift card that you can deposit money on that acts like cash. Make that happen and micro-payments will be the new digital economic engine.

The technology is all there to make it happen. The REAL hindrance is advertisers greed for personal information, and the governments desire to turn the internet into a forensics playground.

AW says:

Re: It doesn't have to be this way

Yeah problem is news jut isn’t WORTH money. When you’re competing against free and the free offering is providing better content why am I going to you? CNN uses ireporters and gets free news. I wish Fox news would create a Micropayments system just install a coin operated tv set in every viewers living room and the collective IQ in America would go up about 20 points, plus jobs for meter maids.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: It doesn't have to be this way

I know Techdirt hates the concept of micropayments but that’s exactly what the news industry needs.

I don’t “hate” micropayments, I just understand enough economics to explain why they don’t work.

Knowing it won’t work and “hating” are two different things.

It’s a fool’s errand to assume that micropayments for such content will ever work. It’s got nothing to do with it not being convenient. It has everything to do with economics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It doesn't have to be this way

Micro-payments do work. Just look at all the MMOS that make a lot of money by being free and using micro. I don’t think it would work for a newspaper. I am not going to pay a single cent to read a news story that’s keep me entertained for a few seconds. I can get them online elsewhere for free. On the other hand I would definitively buy a new map for my game, or a new sword.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It doesn't have to be this way

“hand you a form asking for your name, address, phone number and asking you to setup an account name and password with your email address … copy down your credit card number”

– You forgot “and track your ass across the globe recording your every move”

“The government needs to institute an electronic cash system where you can make a simple click and buy”

– No they dont. That is a horrible idea.

“The REAL hindrance is advertisers greed for personal information, and the governments desire to turn the internet into a forensics playground.”

– and the media giants desire to turn a simple communications platform into a convoluted distibution device capable of watching you watch their content.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It doesn't have to be this way

No, the real hindrance is that we readers are willing to pay for content with our attention but not with our money. Commercial TV flourished since the 1950s in just such an environment. Looked at from that point of view, the Interent is NOT NEW. What Techdirt and others are preaching is all old hat. It worked for TV for decades. There is no reason to assume that it will not continue to work now.

Let me run through the drill:
1. Shows brought the audience,
2. advertisers paid to sell to the audience provided,
3. we, the audience, that is, bought the products the advertisers told us about,
4. the TV producers, in turn, got some of that money because the advertisers bought time slots for the next show.

It worked. Why is that a problem today?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: It doesn't have to be this way

The problem is that media doesn’t have the same space limitations or the high cost of entry that it used to. Anyone can build an audience, and there is no real limit on the number of audiences that can exist or the size of those audiences. Nor is there any firm limit on the amount of advertising that can be pushed through digital channels.

All those factors have pushed the price of online advertising way down – it’s not at all comparable to the rates newspapers & TV stations get.

Of course, I’m not defending micropayments. To me it’s obvious that the real challenge is in improving the efficacy and value of online ads, and charging higher rates or selling more advertising (or both). But that is a challenge that will require creativity and innovation to overcome – unfortunately plenty of newspapers are trying to ignore that challenge and build a brand new revenue stream with paywalls/micropayments.

But it is still a real challenge, and though the overall model is “old hat”, there is still much to be done to make it function in the new media landscape.

theWebalyst (user link) says:

It gets even better

..when you see newspapers like The Guardian trying a different route – being open – offering content to developers for joint benefit. See their Open Platform here http://j.mp/9NEvWA and just imagine the cool things that people will build with this stuff.

Also, another innovation via The Guardian using the paper.li platform is the “Twitter Guardian” (http://j.mp/ayObau) where I can once more read something like the now defunct Guardian Technology Section, built using the Guardian’s Twitter feed. Its actually rather good. I’ve been prefering it to the Twitter feed.

I am loving News Corp’s faux pas with tech. First MySpace, now paywalls. Whatever next? Any ideas? πŸ™‚

darryl says:

Its better than paying for advertising we dont want.

I don’t “hate” micropayments, I just understand enough economics to explain why they don’t work.

Knowing it won’t work and “hating” are two different things.

They dont work eh !!!, tell that to iTunes, or any phone company that charges micropayments for each SMS or call. iTunes has a hugly popular method of micropayments for music.

And ofcourse, whenever you see an add in Google, or whatever, you know fully well that each time you purchase an item that has ever been advertised you pay a MICROPAYMENT (sometimes not even that micro) as a part of the purchase price of the product.

To make statements that advertisement paid news or content is any cheaper than other methods of payment is wrong.

You fight against micropayment, but you cannot even see the big picture, and you somehow think that all the adds you see on google are there for free, and therefore all the money google makes each year is from providing content.

ITS NOT, its from being paid by advertisers, those advertisers are PAID BY YOU, and me, and everyone else who uses that product directly or indireactly, through the advertising tax.

But you cant see that, you only look at things through tunnel vision. I would rather pay NOT to PAY advertisers, especially of products that I will never use.

Consumers have worked this out, that is why various forms of NON-advertisment subsidised content is available for those who prefer to pay for content as opposed to paying for an advertising tax on everyone..

Where do you think these big companies get the money from to pay google, newpapers, magazines, TV and Radio advertising, billboards etc etc etc.. And you want them to pay for my news with MY MONEY, even if I would never read the NY Times. ? Nice one..

Talk about not seeing the big picture, or deleberate bias.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Its better than paying for advertising we dont want.

If you buy a newsstand copy of The Wall Street Journal you pay for the paper and the paper conntains ads. If you want to read the WSJ online you pay a subscription fee and the site contains ads. Hmmm. No difference there.

What is different is this: The WSJ is the only consumer media site that has been able to charge for access on a sustaining basis.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Its better than paying for advertising we dont want.

iTunes is e-commerce, not micropayment.
SMS? Nothing to do with micropayments OR Internet based commerce.
Google CPC advertising? Micropayments? Hardly.

“various forms of NON-advertisment subsidised content is available for those who prefer to pay for content as opposed to paying for an advertising tax on everyone.” ?? Please provide some examples?

Sorry Darryl, I think the one not seeing the big picture is you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Its better than paying for advertising we dont want.

“those advertisers are PAID BY YOU, and me, and everyone else who uses that product directly or indireactly, through the advertising tax.”

What, and you think that if you support a news site with micropayments, that you will get a discount when you buy the products advertised on the site? Rather you will pay the advertising costs in any case….

Moreover even if all the online news sites moved to micropayments AND abolished online advertising, the advertising industry would continue and you would still be paying your “tax” ….

darryl says:

Re: www.shirky.com/weblog

Mabey they cannot work out a way of doing it, (Im not going to bother reading it). But micropayments for news is as old as news itself.

Its far older than the internet.

Sure some advertisers might not like the lower exposure, but others might (and will) see that as an opportunity.

Its a tradeoff, how much you pay for content, if you want to let the advertisers pay for your content, then expent the content to be cheaper, but the cost of all products you buy will be more expensive.

Or you can have no advertisers paying, no adds and the cost of the content is all yours.

Most prefer something in the middle, advertiser driven news is generally biased and less accurate than independent news. (after all what news company is going to expose their biggest clients).

So if nytimes, wants to create content and allow people to purchase that content, its THEIR right to do so, and there is no reason why it cannot be made to work.

The hardest part of any micropayment system, its the payment system, iTunes have a system where you purchare credit, so does WoW, so does most ISP’s and prepaid services.

So there is no reason at all that nytimes could not come up with a deal with ISP’s, or carriers or easy billing agencies that would allow micropayments to be added to your monthly phone or internet bill.

You would find that once it becomes easy to pay 10c for a page view, then more and more people will take up that service.

But to say because something (especially on the WEB) has not worked in the past so it wont work in the future is very shortsighted.

May be the likes of shirky.com cant get the formula right, but companies like phone companies, electricity companies, ISP’s, satellite TV, Pay per view, iTunes and many many more have been able to incorporate micropayment system very easily and effectively.

for how long have we been hearing about the demise of the print news media, except it never seems to actually happen.

I would not mind making a bet the nytimes will be around alot longer than Techdirt will be.. just a guess..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: www.shirky.com/weblog

Darryl, you seem to be having a problem understanding some basic concepts:

– Most people are NOT WILLING to pay for news content. The problem isn’t how to collect the money the problem is people do not want to pay the money.

– iTunes, PVP, Sat TV, public utilities are not paid for with micropayments and have nothing to do with micropayments.

– 142 daily and weekly newspapers folded in 2009. The demise of print is real.

jc (profile) says:

The real problem

All this talk about pay-walls and advertisers, micro-payments and macro-payments is rather pointless. The biggest problem facing newspapers is not the internet. Newspaper subscriptions were in a state of decline before the web was even in the picture.

The biggest challenge facing newspapers is … other newspapers (basically through the concept of globalization). There are WAY to many news organizations, between tv, radio, and newspapers. There are approximately 1500 daily US newspapers and just like Wal-mart, Target et al. slowly destroyed mom and pop shops, so too will large news organizations (like AP and Reuters) slowly eat up smaller news agencies.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: The real problem

“The biggest challenge facing newspapers is … other newspapers ….. There are WAY to many news organizations, between tv, radio, and newspapers. There are approximately 1500 daily US newspapers …..so too will large news organizations (like AP and Reuters) slowly eat up smaller news agencies.”

The problem the newspapers have is more complex than just globalization. Here is a small list …

1) Peoples news reading habits have changed, they get their news passed to them from friends and family.
2) Classified ads have been replaced by craigslist, e-bay, monster, etc.
3) There are free sources for news.
4) People have gone more subject and interest specific in what news they read. Most articles in news papers are unread by people for this reason.
5) Advertising is cheaper and more targeted online, making it a more effective use of advertising dollars.
6) The news papers are leveraged to the hilt with debt.
7) People have noticed how biased the papers actually are.

Losing advertising dollars, drowning in debt, and people finding what they are interested in elsewhere has doomed the papers.

jc (profile) says:

Re: Re: The real problem

I wouldn’t disagree to anything that you’ve listed, but most of those don’t explain why the number of daily newspapers has been on the decline … since 1950.

Also, I would argue that most of your points are side effects of globalization, which is really a side effect of more efficient communication. TV probably would have had the same long term effect on newspapers if the Internet hadn’t come along and speed up the process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The real problem

“I wouldn’t disagree to anything that you’ve listed, but most of those don’t explain why the number of daily newspapers has been on the decline … since 1950.”

Conglomeration and intra-market competition has a lot to do with that. There has been a decline in the number of family farms in the U.S. since ~WW2. They’re still around and profitable, but bigger companies are occupying more land. The number of farms went down though…

Where do you think the blogs get their news? Do they have reporters? Usually not. Yahoo links to stories from NEWSPAPER COMPANIES. As does Google, MSN, etc.. Lee Enterprises, Gannet, AP, Reuters, Tribune inc.. You see these on stories all the time, but hey, who needs newspapers?

IHQ

Isma'il says:

It's because of all the brain-dead MBAs.

Seriously, it seems like company after company is hiring these bozos that only know the World according to Excel and PowerPoint and get corporate types all jazzed about the “money” they would save. Turns out their spreadsheets don’t have columns for customer loyalty, so it just gets ignored. Then they wonder why profitability goes down the toilet.

Thunderhawk says:

No one pays for lies and spin

Why should anyone want to pay for lies when the truth is out there for free? You can see this in the slow death of newspapers that toe whatever party line its owners want to propagate. Sorry, Main Stream Media, until you realise that people are no longer buying the bovine scatology that you pass for news, you are on the road to terminal decline. Good riddance.

Griff (profile) says:

only 90% ?

If the loss of traffic was only 90% he’d be laughing. I mean, 10% of millions is a lot of paying traffic.

A lot of early “free” stuff on the web went from free to charging and hoped to hold onto 10% . I’me sure services like Logmein, AVG anti virus, etc would be overjoyed if only 90% of their users opted for the free version of their product.

But if it’s free somewhere else, people will eventually find out when they see the costs add up.

I see no future for newspapers. But I can see a future for reporters, if they can sell timely copyrighted content to outlets who are prepared to contribute something (when there are no newspaper sites left to link to).

Reporting of plain facts will be mostly crowdsourced. Opinion and analysis (ie added value) will be bought by websites from contributors to differentiate their sites.

Griff (profile) says:

Micropayment etc

Micropayment can work if it’s “micro” and convenient.

“Registration walls” tend to stop people in their tracks even when there is no charge, so it’s not a money thing. I pay for wired magazine through my door (it’s free online) but balk at free registration walls because they get in the way when I have no time (ie at the moment I am trying to read them). I pay for Economist subscription because they give me it all in MP3 form to listen to when walking the dog.

We pay for convenience and added value.

Someone should have the sense to develop micropayment that is so tiny financially as to be trivial, so that the only problem is the inconvenience. Then work on (and improve) the inconvenience aspect relentlessly till it works. Then let it spread until it becomes the norm.
then, down the line,(when no-one can remember a time before it) raise prices gradually. By then it will be a true friction free market and people will be able to vote for value with their feet.

By convenient I mean “built into the browser”.
With crowdsourced ratings for articles that learn what you like and steer you to content you’ll also like.
Effectively what google already invisibly does for web content. News will become like any other content. But some content (news or otherwise) will be free and some will cost a fraction of a cent. Dross will be voted out of sight, like a crap website in the search rankings. Quality will rise to the top and free market real time pricing will allow the microprice to reflect that.

My time to read a news article costs money. $1 for 5 minutes at least.
I’d rather spend a cent to know in advance that the article is worth my time, than waste 5 minutes for free finding it’s not.
I’d like a system clever enough, for example (from related user feedback) to know that if I’ve already read X then Y will tell me nothing new.

But it can’t happen in a single overnight leap.

Murdoch etc want us to make a step change and his product isn’t good enough.

Joe (user link) says:

No Way

“I wouldn’t mind paying a few cents to a nickel for each news story I read.”

I would. Half the stuff I read turns out to be sensationalistic crap and worth nothing. And you can’t tell until AFTER you’ve read it.

If paying for access makes you happy, then donate to the places you like…but don’t suggest forcing a pay-or-else like this on the rest of us just because you’re happy pissing your money away.

Joe (user link) says:

No Way

“for how long have we been hearing about the demise of the print news media, except it never seems to actually happen.”

Really? Looked at the magazine racks lately? There used to be thousands of magazines available, but not any more. The same goes with papers- so many have gone out of business in the last 10 years that I find your comment hilarious.

Print news media IS dying, slowly but surely. There will probably always be some still available, but face it: printed media is declining rapidly. It hasn’t died utterly (and probably never will) but the trend is clear.

hmm says:

Of course you all DO realize that the reason the paywall went up has nothing at all to do with revenue, people “stealing” content, the advertisers or anything like that.

It’s quite simply an excuse so that when the Times etc die, they can blame “those greedy internet users” and not their own short-sightedness and failure to create a new viable business model…..it’s all about passing the buck rather than just saying “Look we screwed up, newspapers were doomed from the day the internet was born….”.

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