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Washington Post considering putting up paywall

Homepage of the Washington Post

From the Washington Post:

Long reluctant to charge for online content, the newspaper is close to a decision to introduce digital subscriptions and charge online readers once they surpass a certain number of articles or multimedia features a month, the person said. Access to the home page and section fronts would not be limited.

The model ? known as a metered paywall ? would be similar to that used by the New York Times, which started charging for online content in March 2011 and now has nearly 600,000 digital subscribers. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have similar models.

I find it funny that The Washington Post has to use unnamed sources to report on plans within The Washington Post. But that aside, this is good news.

Community Comments

#1 Tom Racine
December/7/2012
@ 10:31 am

Maybe it was Clint Eastwood. The Source With No Name.

#2 Mike Rhode
December/7/2012
@ 4:52 pm

The Post only reported on itself after the Wall Street Journal broke the story.

#3 Justin Riley
December/7/2012
@ 5:38 pm

I love free content, but I think it encourages subscription cancellations. Why should people pay for a paper if they can get it free online?

The horror stories we keep hearing about make me think the industry is headed for a sudden collapse.

“Hey!!!? What happened to all the video stores?”

Now I’m prayin for a slow fade away so I can squeak in with my strip.

#4 Rob Tornoe
December/8/2012
@ 8:52 am

E&P just did a feature story on the success of paywalls throughout the newspaper industry:

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/Features/Article/Building-the-Wall–Will-Digital-Subscriptions-Save-the-Newspaper-Industry-

#5 Mike Peterson
December/9/2012
@ 4:43 am

Interesting article, Rob — thanks for the link.

One issue of asking people to pay is the price level. To start with, there’s no carrier taking a one-third cut. Then we get into the avoided costs of plates, paper and ink. Most “paywall” papers don’t offer a price that reflects this, and I’m already paying my ISP for access, just as I used to pay a carrier to put the paper on my porch every morning.

And the second factor is that my ISP delivers more than just that paper. One paper in that article delivers a whole range of community events besides the news, and that’s great. But most want to just give you news and, while I do want that, I’d have to have a lot of loyalty to my local community, and the paper would have to be doing some serious, in-depth expert reporting for me to pay a whole lot for that — especially when I can turn on the TV and get the headlines.

The WashPo’s metered approach is wise. More papers should adopt it.

#6 John Sanford
December/11/2012
@ 7:35 pm

Yeah. I’m sure everyone will sign up to read news they can get almost everywhere else for free.

#7 Donald Rex Jr.
December/11/2012
@ 10:29 pm

My public library carries The NY Times and other out of town papers and news journals. Tons of vintage comic strip reprint books too! All for FREE. And they will try hard to get anything you ask for. Even free internet access.

Is this just Texas, our does your local library do it for you?

#8 John Cole
December/12/2012
@ 9:58 am

@John S: I guess the point is that, like the NYT or WSJ, the WaPo offers first-run content (Tom Toles and Ann Telnaes to name two sources of particular interest to this site) found nowhere else. Additionally, HuffPo, numerous news sites (HuffPo, Gawker and so forth) might all report the basics of, say, a plane crash, but dedicated news-gathering outfits go the extra mile in producing the sort of explanatory and investigative journalism that costs actual money.

Of course, the HuffPos/Gawkers/etc. of the ‘net then hoover up and rewrite said reportage and offer it for free for clicks. But that’s the way of the new world.

#9 John Cole
December/12/2012
@ 9:59 am

And please forgive the superfluous “HuffPo” in the previous comment. It’s just fun to write.

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