by Andrew Moran (Guest contributor/Digital Journalist)
Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank announced Monday plans to introduce a paywall structure in 2013. Complete details of the proposed plan have not been released, but it is in line with other Toronto outlets, such as the Globe and Mail.
What other news organization in Toronto is going to enforce a paywall? That is the question on the mind of many Torontonians, who have been used to reading the news on the Internet for free for many, many years.
Readers who headed on over to the TheStar.com on Monday morning may have been surprised (or not surprised depending on your aptitude on the business of media) to learn that the Toronto Star is going to implement a paywall, a measure that offers its visitors a paid-subscription for full access to its content.
“This move will provide a new source of revenue for the Star that will help support our ability to provide readers of both our print and online editions with the best and most comprehensive package of news and information in Canada,” wrote Cruickshank in the announcement. “Under the plan, most print subscribers to the Toronto Star will receive free full access to thestar.com’s content, wherever and however they want.”
Full aspects of the subscription have yet to be released, including the costs, how to register and what features readers can access.The purpose of the subscription is to generate another tool of revenues, while also providing more news stories, video content and podcasts of news from across the Greater Toronto Area and elsewhere in Canada and around the world.
“These additional revenues will strengthen our ability to invest in quality journalism, both in print and online, and provide the high quality of news, information and opinion that our readers throughout the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada have come to expect from the Star,” added Cruickshank. “They will also allow the Star to bolster its long-standing focus on delivering accurate local, national and international news that matters to our readers.”
The Toronto Star joins the likes of the Globe and Mail and National Post of Toronto outlets adding a paywall. In the United States, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have performed the same thing. If the Star is looking to make extra revenue, the New York Times posted its third quarter numbers, which include an 85 percent drop in profits.
Some of its readers have already commented that they will not pay for something that they can receive for free elsewhere. Google News offers hundreds of news agencies that provide the news of the day at no cost, such as the Associated Press and Reuters.
This article originally appeared on Digital Journal [Link]
Social media giant Facebook is testing a new tool called Highlight, letting users pay a small fee to make sure their status updates reach more friends, it’s been reported by TechCrunch.
Highlight lets the average user, not Pages or businesses, select an “important post” and make sure friends see the update, the blog explains.
Highlighted posts could appear higher in the news feed, stay visible for longer, and display in front of more friends and subscribers. “However, they’re not colored differently to make them stand out. And to be clear, this is not like Twitter’s Promoted Tweets which is designed for businesses. Facebook Highlight is for the end-user.”
New Zealand is reportedly a testing ground for this new feature, which hasn’t been rolled out officially yet. Facebook wrote to TechCrunch: “We’re constantly testing new features across the site. This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.”
A New Zealand report states “The trial appears to mark Facebook’s first attempt to make money from postings by regular users and comes as it is gearing up for a public listing which is expected to value the company at about US$90 billion.”
The experiment is playing with different fees for this feature, including a free option. A screenshot of the feature shows a screen asking for $1.80 US to use Highlight.
U.S. political magazine The New Republic announced today they will be droppings its paywall, offering its online content free to visitors.
A blog post on the magazine’s website wrote: “This decision is in line with our desire to enable new readers to discover and share the best of what TNR’s writers produce each day.”
The post emphasizes visitors will only be able to access current content; the archives will only be available to subscribers. Also, subscribers – digital or print – will be the only ones who can comment on the site.
The Atlantic Wire writes despite its reputation in political circles and its impressive 100-year history, “the magazine has struggled to make money, cutting back ad pages in the paper edition while trying to increase subscribers on the web.”
It would be unreasonable to assume The New Republic made this move to answer the New York Times’ recent decision to restrict access to its online content, but with such strong political content on both sites, it wouldn’t be wrong to suggest the two are competing news outlets.
by Paul Wallis (Guest Contributor/Digital Journalist)
Some will have noticed I’m not exactly a great admirer of mainstream media. It took me ages to decide to subscribe to The New York Times, and the reasons weren’t what I expected.
It was a popup that started it. I had 2 articles left for the month. Did I want to subscribe, and if so, why? The only thing that ever bothered me about New York Times subscriptions was that they might pull the plug on the NYT the way they have on other papers. That would have been a loss, because NYT is one of the few good sources of news online without that weird editorial Kama Sutra approach to information. I’ve been reading the NYT for well over a decade, made a few comments and it’s one of my few compulsive mainstream media stops when looking for information on any subject.
Even so, I baulked at a subscription. The NYT gives you 20 free articles a month. That’s pretty good value, and it’s been enough for my needs as a writer and a consumer. That said- Some other issues popped up. Paul Krugman alone writes roughly that many articles per month. So do David Brooks and Frank Rich. These are guys who know how to put together an argument, and if I don’t always agree with them, I can at least respect their talent and ability to make their points. That can’t be said for many other mainstream media outlets.
I read at least three news sites a day. I read Bloomberg, The New York Times, BBC, ABC Australia, PBS and sometimes Washington Post, in the search for non-rabid news. I’ve got Reuters and AP bookmarked, and Google News on tap.
So, the evaluation works out like this:
1. The New York Times contains a lot more depth in major articles and op-eds and degrees of literacy which are notably missing from other sites.
2. I’ve had more than enough of politically motivated troll-news, and if the NYT has a Democrat flavour, it’s not based on clichés and macro-posts like other sites.
3. Do I use NYT research commercially? Yes. It pays for itself, and the site is pretty good in terms of searching for specific information.
4. The raw material approach from NYT is stronger and much broader
5. Do I need to see opinions from Krugman, Brooks, Rich, et al? Yes. They provide perspective, whether I agree or not.
6. Does the information value justify $1.10 a day? Yep.
7. Do I prefer to subscribe to things like this using PayPal rather than a credit card? Yes. I don’t use credit cards online unless it’s absolutely 200% essential.
8. Am I the sort of cheapskate that figures things out this way? Yep.
9. Is there a cancelation/refund policy? Yep.
Having read the NYT for well over 10 years and found a 99c offer for the first month (as distinct from $35, I signed up. Rupert Murdoch was right – Quality sells.
I still don’t agree with paywalls. I think that advertising revenue from fixed prices and marketing news site products (imagine a Best of The New York Times historical package 2000-2010, let alone the rest of its history) is a better and more realistic commercial option. I’m still worried that lousy business models will obliterate good news media. I still don’t like, or trust, MSM as a whole. But I’ll go along with this.
This article originally appeared in Digital Journal [Link]
New figures released this week found NYTimes.com traffic dropping since the company introduced a paywall on March 28. Its share of American pageviews for all newspaper websites decreased from 13 percent in March to 10.6 percent in April, its lowest share in 12 months, according to a study from ComScore, as reported by AdAge.
The study discovered pageviews on NYTimes.com from March to April declined 24.4 percent.
The ComScore study supports analysis by Hitwise, which announced in early April that traffic to NYTimes.com slowed by up 15 percent “most days during the 12 days following the paywall’s launch, compared to days during the previous period,” PaidContent reports.
A New York Times Co. spokeswoman was quick to point how many news sites saw a traffic decline this month due to the high volume of news traffic in March, due to major events such as the tsunami in Japan. “Despite that, and given that this is the first month where you can see the traffic patterns post-digital subscription launch, these are actually better numbers than our internal projections,” she told AdAge.
Also, Times execs said during its first-quarter conference call in late April 1 that it had already added 100,000 subscribers. What has yet to be determined is if those subscribers will continue their membership after the 99-cent introductory rate soon ends.