Like millions of others, each morning I read the news. Unlike generations past I consume it online. Until a few years ago newspapers put their content online for free, however today is the era of the pay wall. This morning, for the first time in a year, I hit my 15 article per month limit with the Los Angeles Times and was hit with the banner asking me to subscribe. The New York Times erected their wall back in 2011 and the Washington Post has announced they will be doing the same.
Is this good for newsrooms as well as a paper’s bottom line?
What I’ve read suggest papers have been pretty happy with the results. For readers of one or two newspapers, online subscriptions are a pretty good deal, better if you’re already a print customer because the material online is free. But for those of us who love to read news from around the country and across the world, who like to share information, and dig into policy issues, it isn’t so great. I love the New York Times so I pay for an online subscription, but I’m not going to shell out money for 10-20 newspapers a month.
What’s true today is that with more news outlets available, there is greater diversity in what people are seeking out. People interested in the Cyprus crisis have learned much more about it since Saturday than would have been possible in a comparable four day period 30 years ago. And the same is true of people interested in the 2013 NCAA tournament. People interested in celebrity gossip know much more about that. People can find out much more about what they’re interested in much more easily than they used to be able to.
I hope that some day media companies will agree to some kind of universal subscription that gives us news consumers access to far more news at a reasonable price.