News-gathering companies have been floundering for years, looking for ways to monetize their timely digital content. Micropayment schemes have failed, so now various combinations of advertising, donations, grants, and paywalls typically generate the revenue that keeps them afloat. But it’s a trickle compared to the old days. Professional journalism is important, so this is a problem for us all, and some foresee the industry’s extinction.
As of last October, over 430 newspapers in North America use some form of paywall. But paywalls drastically reduce readership, because readers can usually find what they want for free. “Leaky paywalls,” which allow limited free access to content, are an improvement– but as with micropayments, they’re ultimately rooted in the print-era assumption that the price of delivered content needs to be static. And that’s a mistake.
If published information has some time value, why can’t publishers charge for it accordingly? If you learn some valuable information before others do, that translates to greater opportunities and higher status– that’s a universal. So why aren’t our subscription mechanisms designed to reflect this? Why can’t you say, “The more you pay, the sooner you get it.”?