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.