I’ve been reading a few of my previous posts and noticed that I never really explained my opinion of paywalls.
Last semester, I learned a lot about paywalls in a few of my journalism classes. I like to think that I’ve mastered the difference between what defines a loyal reader to an occasional reader. One of my classes in particular, really went in detail about paywalls which gave me the chance to learn and understand the hardship many papers go through to make a profit for the work that is on its website.
So with that said, here is my thoughts of paywalls:
I agree with paywalls, but to some extent. I think it really depends on the paper, its content and online presence, and its readers.
When I first heard about paywalls, I thought to myself…how can you charge a person to read information that is online? Everything online is free!
Right now, I am a college student who barely worked last semester, yet my car somehow always needed gas. This may seem a little irrelevant to my topic but I’m trying to make a point about how every penny tends to count when your in school.
For the last two semesters, it was a requirement for at least one of my journalism classes to have a paid subscription to The Times. It use to annoy me to have to get a paid subscription to a paper I barely read, when I could access the information online for free. Luckily, I had put that minor cost under my textbook bill for my parents, so my car did not suffer too much. But it was still the thought of paying for information that I could find free else where. I always thought “why would I pay for access to a paper when I can simply Google the topic and find it on another website for free.”
That was my mindset before I transferred colleges. When I got into Stony Brook University, my journalism classes opened my mind to paywalls and the ignorance that once filled my mind was gone. Now I have a better opinion on the topic.
For physical newspapers that are making the transition to online:
It really makes sense to have paywalls. What is the difference between me picking up The Times at a newsstand and me looking at the day’s paper online? There is no difference, except my health. I can read the paper from my phone or laptop while I’m in bed, instead of running down the block to the newsstand.
For non-traditional papers, that started online:
In general, a paywall is a win or lose situation for both papers, whether it is legacy or not. (NOTE: a legacy paper is a newspaper that has been around and established before the internet)
If an online paper has been giving me free information for years, why should I start to pay for it now? It was founded online and never had print editions to pay for in the first place.
That is when a paywall needs to be tested. Paywalls will not work for every paper, whether a legacy paper or a paper that was founded primarily online and has no print editions.
I’ve read about popular papers that just dove into paywalls and it was not a success, but then again, I have read about popular papers that did the same and it was a success.
Now, papers in general are just testing the idea of paywalls out in different regions and playing with different prices to see what works.
In the end, it truly depends on the paper and what the reader considers valuable news. One will always pay for something that is worth it.
Having a better understanding of paywalls, I personally believe that paying a monthly or yearly fee for information from legitimate papers only means that you are getting accurate and fair – most of the time – news. It may seem unfair to pay for information, but one most always think about the people getting the information and putting it together for us to read; they definitely do not do it for free, so why not pay for services in that case.
As for me, I think it is safe to say that I am a little more open minded about paywalls. Which is great, because I know that when I get out of college, I’ll have no problem paying for a subscription to a few papers. But for now, I’ll stick to broadcast and monitor my limit of articles I read per month!