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The Paper That Doesn’t Want to Be Free

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Financial Times CEO John Ridding:

It was pretty lonely out there for a while in paid land, but it has become pretty clear that advertising alone is not going to sustain online business models. Quality journalism has to be paid for.

Generally speaking, I HATE news organizations that do this (Wall Street Journal, I’m looking at you).  The reporting may be first class, but that doesn’t excuse an access model which is outdated and irrelevant.  A few suggestions as to how this could be fixed:

  1. Adopt an archive system like the New York Times whereby old content becomes “paid-only” or “members-only” after a certain date (weeks, months, etc).
  2. Keep ALL content on the site free up until this date.
  3. “Special” sections and multimedia are excluded from this rule and remain free.
  4. When people buy a copy of the paper, either through electronic delivery or otherwise, give them a code which allows FREE online access to that day’s paper (This code has no expiration date – They bought the paper, after all).

Charging for access to the paper and online versions separately may generate more revenue, but it isn’t done in the interest of readers, the most important audience that these publications have.  In a bid to make traditional news offerings more compelling, paid-only “niche-publishing” seems like a bad move.  What’s really needed is a way to eliminate the differentiation between paper and online versions, it’s the same news, only delivered in a different way.  I don’t buy the “perceived value” argument for the physical paper, the content is the important thing.  Asking people to pay for an additional subscription to a product they already bought is unnecessary.


Written by @chrisfinazzo

August 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

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