Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paywalls jump back into the news (not that they've ever gone)

Paying for media content is one of the major undercurrents of virtually all stories about media these days. There are two significant ones today.

The New York Times is reporting that Apple plans to pitch its new tablet device, which will be introduced officially tomorrow, as a way for publications to charge for content. It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Meanwhile, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger says paywalls like those proposed by Rupert Murdoch could lead the industry to a "sleepwalk into oblivion." He's talking about rigid paywalls, seeming supportive of charging for specialized content while keeping much of your news site free. That's a model that I believe has a good chance of working.

Rusbridger echoes a lot of what I tell students about prospects for journalism. "If you think about journalism, not business models, you can become rather excited about the future. If you only think about business models you can scare yourself into total paralysis," he said in a talk. Read the comments on the Guardian site. They add a lot of insight (at least some of them do).

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