Archive for the ‘paid content’ Category

I am pleased to see that I am wrong about newsrooms with paywalls or a print focus adding staff:

  • The Orange County Register is expanding with its print-first focus, Nieman Lab reports.
  • Josh Awtry, editor of the Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo., told me in an exchange of Facebook messages that he has added 2.5 reporters as part of the Gannett newspaper’s paywall strategy: “It’s tough to say exactly which positions were new and which were restructured, since it was in conjunction with a huge staff org chart rebuild. In the end, though, we increased net funding by 2.5 positions (that we funneled into reporter jobs) as a measure of wanting to show readers that, if we were going to demand premium prices, we were serious about providing a premium set of products.”

In my post about Dean Starkman’s views on the Digital First strategy, I said I was not aware of such hiring. I’m glad to see that some of these newsrooms are hiring. I remain skeptical that either a print-first approach or a paywall will be successful strategies over the long term. But I’m always glad to see news organizations investing in journalists and good journalism. I wish them both prosperity.

Also, Mathew Ingram of GigaOm continues the discussion of Starkman’s insistence that paywalls somehow provide stronger incentives for quality, noting that he “selects evidence that supports that argument and ignores any that contradicts it.”


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If nostalgia were a business model, Dean Starkman might be a CEO and his company might make tons of money.

But nostalgia doesn’t work in the news business the way it does for the History Channel. And besides, the good, old days Starkman wants to take newspapers back to never actually existed.

My initial reaction to Starkman’s latest rant for Columbia Journalism Review was that I couldn’t and shouldn’t address it here:

But Steve Myers helped me out:

I respect Steve a lot and I respected CJR for decades. I learned this biz in the old school when CJR was an important voice in journalism and merited a response. So I took another read. As close as I can tell from a piece that desperately needed the attention of an old-school editor, these are Starkman’s points: (more…)

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Opposition to paywalls is a “theology,” Rem Rieder said in moderating a one-sided love-session panel discussion about paywalls a couple months ago at the American Society of News Editors convention.

I considered at the time writing a response to the whole panel and especially to Rem’s notion that opposition is a theology (I come from a family of ministers; I know a theology when I see one). But I resisted the urge. I had other things to do, and I’ve written plenty on the topic.

The arguments before and against paywalls have been made extensively and passionately recently at the Columbia Journalism Review. Journalist-turned-entertainer David Simon made the argument for paywalls last month in a fairly short CJR piece and then his many responses in a long discussion in the comments, which I joined. I wouldn’t characterize anyone in this debate as theological, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to call Simon’s argument strongly faith-based.

Howard Owens responded a few times in the Simon comments, then wrote a separate piece for CJR, listing 10 reasons Simon is wrong. He cites facts, dollars, page views and history. It is the most detailed, reasoned, fact-based analysis of the paywall issue I have read, certainly more so than any I have written. I will not try to summarize it here. But if you care about paywalls and about the economic success of the news business, I urge you to read it.

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A quick roundup of pieces I don’t have time to break down in detail:

Journalism and education

Ken Doctor

In The newsonomics of  News U, Ken Doctor suggests that news organizations can expand their community news and information role and play a formal role in education in the community:

As the tablet makes mincemeat of the historic differences among newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio, we see another bright line ready to dim: that seeming line between what a news organization and what a college each do.

I’m not going to try to summarize Ken’s piece, but I encourage you to read it. I will respond to one of Ken’s suggestions for the news business: (more…)

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I have written perhaps too much about paywalls. I even sort of vowed once to stop writing about them (fortunately I hedged it). I think maybe I kept writing about them in hopes of someday expressing my doubts about paywalls as clearly as Mathew Ingram and Dave Winer did today.

Ingram cites three reasons newspapers shouldn’t charge for their digital content:

  1. “Paywalls restrict the flow of content.”
  2. “Paywalls are backward-looking, not forward-looking.”
  3. “Newspapers need to adapt, not retrench.” (more…)

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I wrote a couple years ago about the misleading paywall announcements when three Gannett sites were testing paywalls. Now that Gannett is charging further down that futile path, the Lansing State Journal has perfected the obfuscated paywall announcement.

I’ll break it down by paragraph, describing the content:

  1. Self-praise.
  2. Self-praise. (more…)

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Janet Coats articulated better than I did the problem with the New York Times paywall: It reveals, she says, a “vision very much preoccupied with the rearview mirror.”

Janet, former editor of the Tampa Tribune and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (owned by the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group), notes how quickly last week’s paywall announcement followed Times Editor Bill Keller’s column about aggregation (which required a second attempt). (more…)

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