Death by Paywall

Dana Blankenhorn has thoughts about latest moves of news services behind paywalls.

While elite journalists bemoan the right-wing propaganda machine, seeing it as an existential threat to democracy and liberty, they’re defending an industry rapidly going behind paywalls. Nearly all daily newspapers are already there. Now the news services are doing. The latest is Reuters, which erected theirs this weekend.

The criticism is apt. The refusal to do anything about it is criminal.

Paywalls have been around in various forms for years, but I’ve noticed that they’re getting more and more in-your-face nowadays — sometimes not even letting you glimpse an article before demanding you sign up for a month.

Dana proposes a ‘day-pass’ model to allow readers access for a small fee to a time period or article limit before the paywall closes again.

Instead of demanding the commitment of a subscription, newspapers can offer day passes that let people behind the paywall for 24 hours or even less. When I tweeted this idea, however, a reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review specializing in digital journalism instantly dismissed it, calling it unworkable. (I felt like throttling the bastard.)

The technical means are there, all that is lacking is the will, it seems.

A news story that’s not read doesn’t exist. Every reporter knows that, yet we stand idly by while our bosses leave readers with nothing but propaganda to read. During my first lecture at Northwestern’s Medill School, in 1977, our teacher suggested we might prefer the nearby Kellogg School of Business. I should have taken him up on it.

Without a functioning business model that puts readers first, journalism doesn’t exist. Medill is now an “integrated marketing” program. I should throw my MSJ into the nearest garbage can.

One comment on “<span class='p-name'>Death by Paywall</span>

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  1. Often when there’s been a very specific article I’ve wanted to read, I’ve bought the paper as a single issue from the Kindle Store, the cost is usually on par with that of a non-tabloid newspaper. No new account needed, no bank details, very easy. (As long as you own a Kindle or have the Kindle app set up, that is.)

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