What’s the Future of Paid Content?

The Christian Science Monitor reported today that both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are considering getting rid of their paid subscriptions and providing free access to all of their content. This caught my eye, as the Journal has long been admired as one of the few media outlets actually able to make money off of their online content. Their columnist suggests that “If both the Times and Journal abandon the idea of pay-to-read content, it is essentially dead for the time being on the Web.”

As part of a younger generation (well, sort of anyways) of media consumers, I’ve always held the opinion that it’s a little bit silly to pay for online news and analysis. After all, if the New York Times locks their best columnists away behind a paywall, you can usually find equally timely and insightful commentary from the London Times or Washington Post. And of course, any article that I pay for, I expect to have the luxury of savouring over a cup of coffee on a weekend morning – and I don’t mean on my laptop.

I guess my behaviour presents a bit of a conundrum for newspapers and magazines. Not only will I not pay for their content, I’m not even likely to read the ads that support it when they give it to me for free – with AdBlock for Firefox, those pesky banner ads are a thing of the past. I wonder what Rupert Murdoch will come up with to tackle this problem.


  1. It depends how many are like you. Enough, and back go the pay walls. Not enough, and the pay walls go down.