Paywalls Would Work Better if They Didn’t Charge So Much

 

Paywalls Would Work Better if They Didn’t Charge So Much

I’m not going to pay a dollar a month for the New York Times

Man reading a newspaper
Photo by Joanes Andueza on Unsplash

Yes, the New York Times is a fine newspaper. So is the Wall Street Journal and dozens of others. There are many sources for in-depth stories, deep analysis, and everything else that is good journalism.

But I don’t get my news that way now. I don’t get it from TV either unless there is a developing story of major personal importance like a terrorist incident or an approaching destructive storm.

I don’t subscribe to a physical newspaper and haven’t for many decades. When I was young, we did get our local paper delivered, but I seldom would read it because a newspaper is clumsy to hold and most of it gets thrown away. I preferred to get my news from my local NPR station.

Dead trees and polluting ink. I’ll be happy to see them go. (Tony Lawrence)

The Web

As the web developed, I listened to the radio less and less. Why wait an hour for the next news cycle when I could find the story on the internet? Why wait impatiently for someone to speak when I could read so much more quickly? Why be forced to listen to something unimportant to me or that I already had heard when I could skip all that on the web?

So, yes, now the New York Times and all its brethren, kissing cousins, and estranged uncles are on the internet. So are all the magazines. All there, some open, some offering a few articles per month, some locked away entirely.

Foraging

I will never go to the New York Times home page. I’ll never go to any news provider’s home page. I’ll see it on Twitter — or more likely right now, I’ll notice something on Medium and google it.

When I google, I‘ll see results from many sources: newspapers, magazines, writing sites, and blogs. I’ll pick one or more and scan it quickly to see if it’s what I want. If not, back to Google.

The magazine articles are an interesting example. My Apple News subscription includes many of the magazines I used to pay for separately. The only time I will go to Apple News to read them is when the story I want is locked behind a paywall.

I bet journalists, executives, and even the janitors at major newspapers and magazines use Google for a lot of their research as well, which is richly ironic.

Too much money

So when the New York Times or anyone else pops up wanting money, I am not going to pay. Fifty dollars or more yearly for a site I might use once a month or less? No way that will happen!

By the way, you can sometimes avoid paywalls by using Reader View on Safari (Reading View on Microsoft Edge, Reader Mode on Chrome). It doesn’t always work, but it is worth a try.

I do pay for Apple News, because for $10 a month (much less with the Apple One Premier subscription) I get many newspapers and magazines and do sometimes go there when I can’t get what I want foraging Google.

Package

I think that’s what all newspapers and magazines will have to do eventually. Join something like Apple News and give up begging. Yes, there will always be people willing to pay for a subscription, but obviously, there aren’t enough. If there were, these sites wouldn’t be putting up paywalls.

I think the sites must know this. They tried funding with advertisements, but it seems that doesn’t pay enough. I suspect the reason why is that too many people read as I do, jumping from site to site. The advertising is spread too thin to support most sites.

Newsbreak

I wonder if Newsbreak thought they could be a bundler with the “journalists” as outsourced contractors rather than employees? If that’s what they thought, it seems that hasn’t worked. Maybe it could if they had better editorial control? I don’t know; the fact that they are soliciting stories other than news might be a hint that it is not working.

But bundling does look like the future for me. That’s why I went with the Apple One Premier that gives me Music, News, iCloud, Apple TV, Arcade and Apple Fitness for $30 a month. I may not use all of those every month, but overall it’s a good deal.

Newspapers and magazines should be thinking about that.

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