I try not to do this too often, but I'm going to start this entry by sharing something I wrote almost four years ago. I called this How Should Newspapers Make Money Online? and I originally published it on February 17, 2009.
I actually feel sorry for the newspaper industry. I don't know about you, but I read almost all of my news now online and I don't pay a cent for any of it. I want it all, I want it instantly and I want it for free.
When people Google Andy Barrie's name, looking for information as to when he'll return to CBC Radio One, my blog entry on the subject is ranked #2. One of the few mainstream press articles on the subject belongs to the Globe and Mail, only they've hidden their article behind a form. You can't read the Globe article on Andy Barrie's leave of absence without buying 30 days access to it for $4.95 + tax. You can buy four articles for 30 days for $17.95 + tax.
At first this angered me. I don't want to spend over $5 just to read a single article online. The web is about articles being online forever and for free, right? And isn't $5 steep for a single article to be available to me for only 30 days?
I don't really know how newspapers are supposed to make money online in this day and age. I know I didn't pay the $5, and I'm not sure how many people out there would. In fact, just having the article offline will likely push people to other newspapers.
How should newspapers earn an honest buck in this age of the Internet, or are they S.O.L?
I still feel sorry for the newspaper industry, so I don't fault the Globe for giving the paywall another shot. The Globe and Mail has just launched Globe Unlimited. Here are the highlights:
There is no additional cost for Globe Unlimited for those who have a five- or six-day home delivery newspaper subscription. For those with partial week subscriptions, including Friday/Saturday and Saturday only, we are offering Globe Unlimited for a substantial discount at $4.99 per month.
For those who prefer to read online only, we are offering a trial subscription to Globe Unlimited for 99¢ for the first month, after which the cost will be $19.99 per month.
Casual visitors to globeandmail.com will still have access to 10 free items each month (including articles, videos, slide shows and other features), after which they will need to subscribe to Globe Unlimited to see more. The Globe homepage, section fronts, videos, stock quotes and Letters to the Editor will all remain free and accessible to the public, and will not count toward the monthly limit.
This model is definitely better than their previous paywall model, but will people be willing to spend $19.99 per month for something that was completely free until yesterday?
Be honest, would you spend that kind of money to access quality content online?