The Year of the Paywall?

Posted on January 27, 2010

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We’re already pretty much 1/12 of the way through 2010, and there are no signs yet that this year is set to be, as the Economist predicted, ‘the year of the paywall’.

Thank heavens for that, though there’s still a long way to go, of course. With numerous people within the media having been rumbling on about it for months now, surely it can’t be too long before the first major news outlets (most likely one from within the Murdoch empire) begins to charge for its content.

Murdoch: likely to be the first to raise a paywall (Pic: Guardian)

I dread the idea of having to pay for media online. Regular readers of this blog will know that I view news in enabling a citizen to gain knowledge of the world as it unfolds around them. This strengthens our democratic tradition. An uninformed person is not an empowered person. And if people are required to pay for news, many, quite simply, will not. And thus the decline to ignorance begins.

Melodramatic? Yes, probably. Paywalls have worked for some news sites, such as the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. Yet these sites are aimed at providing financial news to business people who are willing and able to pay in order to get ahead of the game. The same spur would not exist for everyday, regular news.

The dreaded ‘blogosphere’ may have impacted negatively on newspaper circulation, but they will also hinder paywall plans too. My colleague Rhiannon Edwards notes this here.

I certainly hope it doesn’t work. Let’s think of something else.

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Posted in: Issues, Media