Much of Canada’s newspaper media are going to be putting up online paywalls in 2013. It is tough to make a go of it in the newspaper biz these days and the publishers are opting for Press+ and its imitators.
What a paywall does is trade influence for revenue. Which, may or may not make sense for any given media property. But what it certainly does is create market opportunities for other information providers.
Realistically, an awful lot of newspaper content is coming off wire services these days and that means it can be accessed via Google News and a host of other aggregators. As well, public sources like the BBC and the CBC are unlikely to be paywalled. So basic news will remain free.
But what about the rest of the paper – editorial, columnists and such like? Well, I have been surviving without Mr. Simpson and Ms. Wente quite nicely. In fact, there are really very few columnists whose writing is even slightly compelling. Editorials? Mainly predictable and rarely insightful.
More importantly, if I want opinion it is all over the net.
What MSM is about to find out is that its influence depends on its traffic and, with a paywall, that traffic is going to drop. Fast.
The smarter media will take advantage of this. There are, frankly, better ways of making money online than putting up a paywall.
The best editorial comment is still found on blogs, not in newspapers. Can’t see why I’d want to pay for a second rate product when the best one is free. If anything, I’d rather hit the tip jars of the good bloggers.