Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Chittum’

I truly meant it more than three years ago when I said in this blog that I wanted to move on from the paywall argument. This issue and the attention it commands are perhaps the most consistent sign I see that the newspaper industry is stuck in the past.

But I keep getting sucked in. People continue making the same points on both sides and I keep joining the discussion.

Most recently Ryan Chittum of CJR has posted a detailed response to my post that criticized his ridiculous claim that the “war” was over.

This will not be a detailed response. I believe my argument stands on its merit and that it’s stronger than his original argument and his second argument and arguments no doubt to come. And I have better things to do with my time than persuading people who will never agree.

One point of his response deserves mention here: I faulted Chittum for not showing the work behind his estimate that the New York Times paywall is bringing in $100 million in revenue. I should note that he responded by providing a link in this piece to a more detailed analysis of the Times paywall. It’s not an explanation of the $100 million figure, and I disagree with his analysis, but I should update that he is now providing more explanation of the number.

I hope paywalls are successful for everyone who’s trying them. But I hope even more that someone (preferably my company, Digital First Media) develops a forward-looking model that will support healthy media in the future. If Digital First makes a significant move relating to paywalls sometime, I guess that might prompt me to blog on this topic again.

But otherwise, I’m leaving this argument to people who aren’t tired of it. I mean it this time. I think.

Update: Two comments say they are seeing a video on this post. I didn’t put it there and I can’t see it on my Mac on either Safari or Chrome. If you see it, can you tell me where it is and what computer or browser you’re using. I’m not sure I can fix it, but if you know how to fix it, I’d appreciate any help. And I don’t recommend clicking it. But if you do, please let me know if it’s related. Thanks!

Update 2: Apparently WordPress has started dropping ads into free WP blogs (probably notified me and I didn’t read it?). Anyway, I just paid to be ad-free. And yes, I appreciate that irony.

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Update: Ryan Chittum has responded to this piece in detail. He’s wrong on lots of points, but I am tired of the argument and think this piece holds up well.

An editor shared some paywall results with me yesterday. I don’t use unnamed sources lightly, but I understand why this editor can’t use his or her name or organization. It’s someone I’ve known and respected for a few years. Here’s what this editor of a small regional daily newspaper said:

We have had a digital subscription plan in place for a few months. We don’t even have 300 subscribers yet. It’s a failure. Even at the corporate level we’ve stopped hearing about paywalls. They know they aren’t working either.

I will be clear about one thing: This is not a Digital First Media editor and I will not disclose here the results of any of the MediaNews paywalls that launched shortly before Digital First took over operation of MediaNews last year. I don’t have those results and wouldn’t be the right person to disclose them.

The editor who emailed me is not the only person outside Digital First I’ve heard from who’s worried about weak results of a paywall, just the most specific and the one who contacted me this week. I’m not about to say that the current wave of paywalls will all be failures, based on this one email from an editor who won’t be named and less-specific comments from some other people.

I am willing to say that anyone who thinks the matter of whether paywalls will help news organizations find a prosperous future is settled is completely lacking in credibility. Specifically, the paywall cheerleading by Ryan Chittum and Dean Starkman of CJR is mystifyingly lacking of thoughtful analysis and skepticism. (more…)

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