Paywalls, paywalls, paywalls. It seems every time I switch on the tv, radio or laptop there is someone talking about Rupert Murdoch and his pledge to start charging for online content next year. So I’m going to add to the saturation by talking about it on my blog too.
Last week I attended a lecture given by editor for ContentNext, Robert Andrews. In it he told Cardiff University postgraduates that charging for online content is akin to: “Trying to put the genie back in the bottle.” His reasoning is people have been brought up with content for free on the net so the concept of paying for it is alien. Of course he is right, it is a strange thought, but one that is already in operation.
Robert explained that the Financial Times already has paywalls, which are making money (around £90 per 121,000 subscribers) primarily because it’s a business paper and people are willing to pay for what they see as valuable information they cannot get elsewhere. B2B magazines can also afford to put up paywalls (as this article in paidContent:UK refers to) as they too have niche information that people deem relevant enough to fork out for. So where does this leave Murdoch and his newspapers which, some would argue, doesn’t give people news what they can’t obtain for free elsewhere? The answer is no one knows.
But Murdoch isn’t the only one who believes in paywalls. Editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, has predicted that most news organisations will charge for online content within a year. He believes that digital media doesn’t pose a threat to crafted professional journalism but does to the mediocre (people blogging on hearsay rather than fact).
Only time will tell if Murdoch will be successful when the paywall rises.