Even the name is debated so contentious is this subject in the news industry.
The Pros and Cons of some form of online paid access for newspaper websites have been argued in such extremes that nuance and accuracy have been the first victims of the debate.
The Columbia Journalism Review links paywalls to higher quality journalism and argues the free web, supported by advertising, does the opposite – labeling the results “hamster wheel” journalism.
DFM’s Steve Buttry’s blog captures some of that argument – Pro and Con – here.
I have stated I think they can be a dangerous management distraction to the real job of adapting a legacy business to the realities of an Internet world.
To paraphrase Clay Shirky, you can’t fix a business model the Internet just broke. To which I would add you don’t transform from a broken model by tweaking it – you build something else.
I think paywalls, meters if you like, are exercises in tweaking not transforming.
Most paywalls in the US are simply initiatives in subscription price hikes – bundling digital with print with no clear plan for sustainable growth.