Paid content will not save newspapers. Despite what many old journalism hands have said (including pay wall poster child Little Rock’s own Walter Hussman). Paid content limits your audience size and audience growth eventually flattens out. Here’s what the former head of NYTimes.com has to say about paid content…

Thanks to Jack Lail for pointing out this video.

2 thoughts on “Paid content won’t save newspapers

  1. It’s interesting these comments come from someone who has her organization funded significantly by public tax dollars. (Something also tells me that, with the Times’ financial troubles lately, it wouldn’t mind having its $10 million per year back in the bank).

    NPR has done great work with “micro payments” from the individuals to fund its journalistic endeavors. However, I’ll take her more seriously when she’s completely off the public dime and fully competing in the marketplace.

    Yes, paid content isn’t the single savior for news organizations. It is, however, part of a healthy mix that could include online ads (banner, text, classified, etc.), micropayments, etc.

    Newspapers have suffered a great deal from self-inflicted wounds — one of which is giving away content. However, UAMS doesn’t give away all of its services. Ford doesn’t give away its vehicles. Nike doesn’t give away its shoes. Why do newspaper owners think they can give away the valuable, expensive content they create?

    If our newspapers are creating worthwhile, interesting, community-oriented publications, the public will pay for it. Advertisers will support the endeavor, too. Newspapers (online and “dead tree”) still attract the most affluent, most educated, most civic-minded people in our communities. Those people are prime ad targets.

    I have no problem subscribing to the Wall Street Journal’s online edition, and I don’t have a problem subscribing to the Democrat-Gazette’s online edition. I also have no problem subscribing to my local paper’s print edition. The content is important to me, and I’m willing to pay to get it.

    The onus is on the newspaper to create relevant content, and the community will support that with subscriptions, ads and alternate payment methods.

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