Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users

This may be the year where newspapers finally drop the idea of treating all news as a product, and all readers as customers.

One early sign of this shift was the 2010 launch of paywalls for the London Times and Sunday Times. These involved no new strategy; however, the newspaper world was finally willing to regard them as real test of whether general-interest papers could induce a critical mass of readers to pay. (Nope.) Then, in March, the New ... Full Story »

Posted by Fabrice Florin - via Columbia Journalism Review
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Posted by: Posted by Fabrice Florin - Jan 4, 2012 - 10:04 AM PST
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Edited by: Fabrice Florin - Jan 4, 2012 - 10:13 AM PST
Fabrice Florin
4.0
by Fabrice Florin - Jan. 4, 2012

Thoughtful essay by Clay Shirky about the failure of paywalls and the prospects for funding journalism through core users. The author encourages newspapers to stop treating their readers as generic consumers and "figure out how to reward the people most committed to their long-term survival." Interesting observations about the likelihood that these core users may be more politically engaged (and partisan) than the median reader.

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Bob Herrschaft
4.1
by Bob Herrschaft - Jan. 4, 2012

Here we have a nice presentation of the current dilemma of newspapers in the light of the epoch of online competition. The base problem of funding is examined with an eye on separating the news junkies and more politically partisan readers from the "coupon clippers".

The article also presents a good argument for supporting one's local newspaper despite the availability of online alternatives.

For the moment at least, the most promising experiment in user support means forgoing mass in favor of passion; this may be the year where we see how papers figure out how ... More »

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Joe Pallas
3.3
by Joe Pallas - Jan. 4, 2012

The author’s breezy style feels a little bit like swinging with Tarzan from vine to vine through the jungle. A lot of assertions are casually thrown about and then left behind, and it isn't particularly clear in many cases exactly what the argument is, let alone how it is being supported. Maybe I am just grumpy because I have gotten the impression that Shirky thinks I (that is, the kind of newspaper consumer that I am) do not exist. But it's hard to tell.

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