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Posts Tagged ‘paywalls’

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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Reviewing 2010 on this blog:

My job change to TBD was a major theme of the year here. My most-popular post of 2010 shared tips on job-hunting, from my own experience finding a new job and hiring the community engagement staff at TBD. That’s my second most-read post in two-plus years writing this blog. Other posts among the year’s leaders dealt with my job change as well: Pursuing a new opportunity in Washington, Wanted: vision for community engagement and Our community engagement team is taking shape. Another post relating to the job change took a longer view, discussing how I have twice redirected and rejuvenated my career. I also told how TBD’s launch prompted my first foray into public relations and brought back memories of an earlier launch. I explained why we need a director of community engagement, even though engagement should be everyone’s job. I have blogged as well for TBD, writing about our commitment to accuracy and transparency, and about why and how we chose TBD as our name. (more…)

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Entrepreneurial journalists make a mistake if they think advertising is their only potential revenue stream.

Our entrepreneurial journalism class at Georgetown University will focus tonight on exploring possible ways to make money beyond display advertising. I doubt that many organizations would want to pursue all these possibilities. Particularly if you’re a small organization or an individual, you will need to pick your shots carefully and decide which have the most potential and which are worth the time and money it would cost to try them. Some of these opportunities are tailored for the sole proprietor. Others work better for a larger organization or at least for an entrepreneur or team with specialized technical skills.

Here are some revenue streams we will discuss in class: (more…)

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I’ve written plenty about how foolish newspapers are to think that paywalls are any solution to their problems. I won’t repeat that argument (much) here, but I do want to note how disingenuous the recent announcements of paywalls have been.

For much of my career, one of the most consistent complaints of newspaper editors has been about writers who didn’t get to the point. But three paywall announcements by Gannett newspapers, the Tallahassee Democrat, Greenville News and St. George Spectrum, buried their leads so deep that readers didn’t get to the news until the second screen of the online version. All three announcements waited several paragraphs to get to the point: Starting July 1, online readers will have to pay to read their news. All three announcements spun the news with headlines that were misleading at best: (more…)

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