From free to fee: How U.S. dailies decide to use paywalls

Natalie Jomini Stroud, American Press Institute, Jan 30, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Interesting report that observes that few newspapers use research of any sort (beyond asking each other whether it's a good idea) before implementing paywalls (it's a summary of a recent paper that is not available online (I searched)). The research also looks at the value of paywalls and reports that, even in the success stories, "paywalls most likely will not offset steep losses in advertising revenue." But another report suggests that the real value in paywalls might not be the subscription fees, but rather the user data. Erica Sweeney writes, "demographic data can help publishers tailor and recommend specific content, which could increase subscriptions and the value of content." Of course, this means that as you read your newspaper, your newspaper is reading you.

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