10 reasons why a paywall isn’t the answer

For anyone who thinks paywalls are the way ahead for newspaper companies, read this evisceration of the idea by Howard Owens. A brief excerpt from his post at CJR.

A paywall is reactionary. It represents a mindset that says there’s nothing wrong with our journalism or our business approach. It is also an admission of failure at building a real online news business.

The basic notion behind a paywall is, “Journalism is expensive, therefore people should pay for it.” The notion ignores evidence to the contrary and locks in a mindset that believes the way we’ve always done it is the only way to do it. Paywall advocates are not innovators, and if you’re not an innovator in the fast-moving Digital Age, you’re dead.

One of the real dangers of the current paywall schemes isn’t that they won’t produce revenue; it’s that they will become the proverbial golden handcuffs, producing too much revenue to abandon but not enough to accomplish what advocates hope: save journalism.

Full disclosure: He is overly generous in his praise of me in reason #3.

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