Guardian Editor: Belief In Paywall Salvation Is ‘Crazy’

Guardian News & Media’s digital director had already called charging for online newspapers “a stupid idea” back in August. Now editor Alan Rusbridger has chimed in with scepticism, too…

“It would be crazy if we were to all jump behind a pay wall and imagine that would solve things,” he told an audience at Coventry University’s journalism department, according to “He conceded that, whilst pay walls are unlikely to be erected around, it was good that journalism was ‘trying different things’.

In other words, Rusbridger is saying a paywall alone cannot cure all of journalism’s ills, and GNM still seems unlikely to throw a wall around – but that doesn’t mean it has to sit still while its annual losses grow 40 percent, as they did in 2008/09 to £36.8 million…

While the company isn’t charging for content on the web, it has sold its £2.39 iPhone app to 70,000 users since December and is planning a pay-for readers’ club, giving extras like concert tickets and attendance in morning editorial meetings. “Asked whether the Guardian was a sinking ship, Rusbridger said: ‘No, not at all, but if I stop to think about the business model it is sometimes quite scary.’” GNM’s losses were published in parent GMG’s annual report in August and republished in press last week.

Times Online is due to go behind a paywall this spring and spin off a separate pay-for Sunday Times site, is successfully charging for its business news, Johnston Press is experimenting with local paywalls.

Disclosure: Our publisher ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.