As newspaper revenues continue to go down like the Hindenburg, more and more dailies are looking to erect paywalls to corral new cashflow.
Exhibit Umpteen: The Washington Post.
When The Wall Street Journal broke the news that The Washington Post was likely to start charging for online content sometime next year, it should not have come as a surprise, but it did.
The shock had something to do with the certainty that Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Company, has always displayed on the subject. He has long had serious reservations about putting the work of his company’s journalists behind a wall. According to GigaOm, he explained it in the following way to Walter Isaacson at an Aspen Institute event:
The New York Times or Wall Street Journal can say we’re going to charge, but we’re not going to charge you if you subscribe to the newspaper. The Washington Post circulates in print only around Washington, D.C., but way over 90 percent – I think over 95 percent of our Internet audience is outside Washington, D.C. We can’t offer you that print or online choice. So, the pay model would work very differently for us.
But now The Post is contemplating a model in which the homepage and section fronts will be free, but the rest will require a subscription, which is a pretty nifty way to allow for snacking while hoping that people stick around to eat.
But some who’ve gone this route aren’t getting all that many bites. Among them is NYT kissin’ cousin the Boston Globe. Here’s what Carr writes about the two:
The New York Times’s positive experience with online subscriptions is probably not one that will scale across the industry. As a national newspaper with international resources, The Times is fishing in a pool of many millions of potential readers, so the fact over a half a million of that audience has opted in is a good sign for the organization, but not necessarily for the industry.
Mr. Graham noted that The Boston Globe, the former home of the incoming Post editor Martin Baron and a high-quality publication, had just 25,000 people sign up. That is a scary low number. But it is a place to begin.
Yeah, so’s zero. That don’t make it good news.