Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hitting A Wall, The PayWall

Newsies by Disney

I like getting my news for free, who doesn't?

But I believe in a pay-site future for journalism to survive, and here are a few reasons why.

Social media sites have dominated our lives, free online news has sprouted up everywhere and we've all become spoiled with the unending flow of information. With the demand for online news stronger than ever, it's apparent we've hit a wall -- the pay-wall. So access to well researched and reported news should come at a cost.

My initial thought was to be against a pay-site future in journalism but after reading an excerpt from Chris Anderson's book FreeI believe that the marketing strategies of Jell-O and Gillette at the time show a excellent example how you can create demand for something if you give something else away for free. Get the consumers to depend on to it, want it, crave it and then let them have it -- for a price.
Jell-O had become a fixture in the American kitchen and a household name. Thus was born the most powerful marketing tool of the twentieth century: giving away one thing to create demand for another.  
That's how we've been getting our news since the creation of the web -- we've been getting it free all this time and now we can't live without it.

We have been given the free Jell-O recipe books, the free Gillette  razors when we opened up a bank account, and we've been given free news since the introduction of online media. Now we want it, we need it, we crave it and soon enough we will have to pay for it.

Here is an example the future is now:

According to the LA ObservedThe Sacramento Bee has now put a paywall.
By the way, about a fifth of the nation's newspapers have some sort of paywall, double the number from a year ago.
Another reason why a pay-site future in journalism is happening, because it's been a part of our history. Remember the time when kids would be on a New York city street yelling "Extra extra read all about it!" You had to pay for that newspaper if you wanted to read about what was on the front page. It would be what we consider trending news in this digital age.

Sure journalism has evolved since the news boy era and the tactics on getting you to pay for news are ever changing. You can always find free news elsewhere bypassing paywall sites and visiting ones offering opinionated and aggregated news. But it's just not fair, journalism is a craft, it's hard work and I don't want to give it away for free.

Consider yourselves lucky to have been around during the free news era but news junkies beware - pull out your credit cards as we are entering into a new dimension.