To Pay, or Not To Pay



ADOTAS – Only one in five U.S. consumers is willing to pay for online news, according to a recent Pew research study. Pay-per-article or subscription fees simply drive readers elsewhere. These findings are bad news for newspaper and magazine publishers intent on charging readers for online content. But the creative juices are flowing at such cash strapped publishing houses.

For example, the New York Times recently announced a hybrid plan in which readers will be able to view a certain number of free articles each month, but they’ll have to pay a flat fee for full access to the site. By comparison, the Wall Street Journal Online has a flat $79 per year subscription fee, which they are able to charge because their content appeals to a specialized and motivated readership. And that quintessential capitalist, Rupert Murdoch, has indicated his intentions to build pay-walls around News Corps. many other information outlets.

For consumers to fork over the cash, news organizations will have to offer “content that is unique, and this may require specialization and investment by news organizations,” Pew reports. A creative approach is obviously needed. To date, the advertising of online print media has been more closely related to the traditional print forms. But the online versions of broadcast television networks reflects their traditional video commercial advertisements.

Print media online has ample opportunity to expand beyond traditional methods of generating revenue for the invaluable service they provide to our public discourse. Readers may have the patients to watch a video commercial prior to being able to read a news story. But anything beyond a few seconds of attention and savvy online readers simply go around the pay-wall.


  1. I think you miss the point. Publications have to charge because the content most are producing is unique and expensive to produce. No other medium produces as much original news content and the free model isn’t working because it allows for the delivery of that content beyond the publication’s website. It also forces print websites to adjust online pricing to compete with the enormous amount of online inventory available, reducing potential revenue to levels which do not support the gathering and creation of original content. It is unfortunate but there is no choice, publications have to start charging.

  2. I find it interesting that the author (“Bob”) indicates the reader may have the “patients” (medical readers?) to suffer through an ad, but probably won’t. And far below this article is the article sponsor’s ad that takes about twenty seconds to get through a few short headlines proclaiming how well they do for clients. Watching it is tedious at best and would seem to indicate that they do not know how to deliver what they promise.


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