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Charging readers for online news
Would making Internet readers pay save newspapers?
 

Newspaper executives are getting serious about making online readers pay, said Rick Edmonds in Poynter Online. After a newspaper executive summit last week, the American Press Institute said papers should shift away from depending on ads for income. Instead, the API urged executives to get "core" or frequent users to start paying for content, and to protect print subscriptions by making articles available only to paying customers.

"If this is really the level of the paper’s economic reasoning," said Scott Rosenberg in Salon, "the industry is in even worse trouble than I thought." Online publications have "tried every online revenue strategy you can imagine: Gate off some of the content. Gate off all of the content. Don’t gate any content but ask users for cash to join a premium program." The "charge 'em" strategy just doesn't work.

These are hard times for journalists who don't get the Web, said Ari Melber in The Nation, but that doesn't mean the market for hard-nosed reporting is drying up. Nick Denton, the Internet mogul behind Gawker and a raft of profitable blog sites, said that charging readers for content might not save traditional newspapers, but it will allow niche websites with independent reporting to flourish.

 

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