by Pat McNees (updated 2-8-18, orig. published 10-2-15)
The days of "the internet wants to be free" are ending. As the advertising-pays-for-print-journalism model stops working, will the blog-for-free-because-it-will-give-you-exposure-and-a-platform model replace it in the name of "citizen journalism"? What are the alternatives? Here are links to some of the debates and articles circulating on this topic -- most recent at the top:
• Journalism’s New Patrons: Newspapers deepen embrace of philanthropy
(David Westphal, CJR, 2-8-18) On January 30, the Charleston Gazette-Mail staff learned it would receive philanthropic support for two news-side reporters in 2018. The money, from Report for America and ProPublica, will cover about 15 percent of the Gazette-Mail’s news reporting salaries (excluding features and sports reporters). And it becomes the latest example of how philanthropy is becoming an ever-larger part of the revenue streams of newspapers and other for-profit news companies. The West Virginia paper is one of seven news organizations being subsidized by ProPublica to intensify investigative reporting over the next year. Separately, it’s one of three participants in a Report for America pilot program that will shine a spotlight on life in Appalachia.
• Bikini slideshows and other click bait: Do paywalls usher in better content?
(Mollie Bryant, Big If True, 2-1-18) An interesting discussion of online ads, paywalls, clickbait, slideshows of bikini contests, and other approaches to declining revenue for journalism. "Wired’s new subscription package is a helluva deal. For $20, readers get a year’s worth of the magazine’s print and digital products, including online access. To sweeten the deal, the package offers a rarity in online subscriptions – no website ads. That means no standalone ads thrust in your face like a jack-in-the-box while you’re mid-sentence. What a concept!" But it’s not going to save print journalism.
• Learning from the New Yorker, Wired’s new paywall aims to build a more “stable financial future”
(Ricardo Bilton, Nieman Lab, 2-1-18) “People who have studied the information age at this point recognize that there were a bunch of problems and side effects to the fact that people weren’t asked to pay for content in the early years of the internet.” "Wired’s brand and mission may align it closely with the koan of the internet revolution that “information wants to be free,” but the days of unlimited free content at Wired.com are coming to an end." Wired editor-in-chief Nick Thompson, who joined the magazine last January after seven years as editor of NewYorker.com, said that developing a Wired paywall topped his agenda from the earliest stages of taking on the job because “it is my strong sense that paywalls are an essential part of the future of journalism.
• Paywalls make content better, Wired editor Nick Thompson says
(Eric Johnson, Recode, 2-1-18) Wired’s wall goes up today: Four free clicks, then $20 a year.
• The Problem With Journalism Is You Need an Audience
(Hamilton Nolan, Gawker (more…)