‘Paywall Is Not A Panacea’; Publishers Seek More Nuanced Alternative

As the paywall debate rages on in somewhat blunt, binary terms, some are coming to conclude a news business model doesn’t have to be either-or.

Francois Nel, director of the Journalism Leaders Programme at University of Central Lancashire, hosted Paywalls And Partnerships, a panel discussion I joined at university’s journalism school on Thursday, to debate some more nuanced ideas (watch the video). Here are some choice observations from the panelists…

Martha Stone, director of WAN-IFRA’s Shaping The Future Of The Newspaper programme..

“Ask your audience, are they willing to pay? Once you get those results, you have to start doing some math – and decide is it worth it to go through all that trouble, to piss off a lot of people, and come up with cents on the dollar of what you could get with other revenue streams?”

Gordon Crovitz, ex WSJ publisher, now founder of news strategy consultancy Journalism Online

“We think most publishers will pursue the freemium strategy – perhaps 90 percent of visitors will remain accessing for free. But the question is, what level of access wil the most engaged 10 percent pay to receive? That (proportion) could be a very substantial amount of new revenue. Many sites that have moved to the freemium model have found no loss in ad revenue and, in fact, some have had an increase in revenue because advertisers are delighted to reach readers who have paid a premium.”

Frederic Filoux, Schibsted’s international editor and MondayNote writer

“The very DNA of the internet is that content has to be free … but you can add up other services that might be paid for. You can have a basic search engine but you can ask your audience for