Lately there’s been a whole wave of talk about the New York Times and its new pay-wall subscriptions. After 20 article views per month, the NYT website will direct its readers to a subscription page where they must pay to view further information on their site. The issue of paying for online content has been a controversial topic amongst the newspaper industry and journalists across the globe. Would viewers pay for such content? How much is too much to charge for this online information?
Since the direction of journalism has traveled from print to online in the recent years, companies must start thinking of innovative ways to make money off of the non-traditional medium. If they don’t want to die out, they must charge for their intellectual property whether it be online or in print.
The Wall Street Journal has been one successful case that implemented a pay-wall and still kept its viewers. But of course, not every newspaper can be like the WSJ. Viewers would only pay for content that they deem valuable. “The content should fulfill a need of the people. The information has to be valuable and solves a problem.” Says Reid Buchanan, a Journalism student at the University at Albany. Another student, Mike Campana agrees: “When the information is important to a large percentage of the community, people would pay. It’s not necessarily the best content, but it is exclusive content that people need.”
The opinions on this issue continues to differ. Some people believe that because we are so accustomed to receiving free online content, we would not pay for such materials, because after all, “information wants to be free.” So what could be some possible solutions to this problem?
In my opinion, the best solution would be to charge by per article. A small amount can be paid if a reader wants to read a particular article instead of being charged for content that they may not even want to read. Along with this, a company can also decide to charge by column. I would definitely pay for the fashion/lifestyle section rather than the sports section. This way, people can have the freedom to choose certain topics that they take a particular interest in rather than the surge of invaluable information in such a large paper.
Everyone is waiting to see whether the New York Times will succeed with their new pay-wall. If they do, I can see many newspapers following in its footsteps. This just might be what we need to finally charge for online content; if all newspapers put up pay walls, we have no choice but to give in. The NYT could be the key to saving the downhill fate of journalism as a whole.