Sunday, 9 September 2012

Paywalls: Please sir, can I have some more?




I'm thinking of instituting a paywall for this blog.
Everybody else is doing it.
The New York Times allows you to read half a dozen articles a month. When you go over, you have to pay the publisher. Ditto the Ottawa Citizen, which has also recently instituted a paywall and ditched its Sunday paper (come on. Do you really miss it?)
It's taken these Masters of the Printerverse three decades to realize what every school girl knows: nobody will buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.
Back in the 1980s, I used to work as a consultant for Infomart when newspapers were first digitizing. My job was to run around to various government departments and get them to buy the service, even before it was up. This was a real smoke-and-mirror operation because we didn't have really have a product and we wanted taxpayers to pay us to get it up and running.
Strangely, we managed to get a lot of bureaucrats excited about online newspapers, which we convinced them were the future. I made a bit of money doing this because, back then, I was one helluva liar which is all you need to qualify yourself as a consultant. But as with all bait and switch games, after a while, you run out of suckers.
It took newspapers for freaking ever to get their content online. It's only in the past decade that online journalism has actually taken off and not in a good way.
Still, nobody wants to pay for it.
People will saddle up to the Quickie convenience store and spend a loonie for a newspaper, no problem. You don't see people stealing newspapers. I mean, can you actually believe that people dutifully paid their money and got their newspapers out of boxes when they could easily have jammed the mechanism and got them for free? People respected the newspaper box. They also respected the printed pages within because they could smell them, feel them and get newsprint all over their fingers.
The Interweb is a different story.
We've all grown up getting online content for free, so we expect it.
You can't go back to people who've gotten newspapers for free all this time and say, okay, now it's time to pay up.
They will simply go to another news source that gets its money from advertising.
That is what I do in my blog. I don't charge for it. I have ads (look up and right) which people click on and I get money for it. Not much money. I think it will take me til Christmas to make a hundred bucks but at least I'm not writing for free.
I'd like to institute a paywall as an experiment to show how stupid they are.
Here's my pitch. Come to my blog, read it, be enlightened for the first week of October. After that, you have to pay. What do you think will happen?
Right, nobody will read my blog.
Like nobody will read the Ottawa Citizen online if they have to pay for it.
Then the Citizen will do what it did the last time it instituted a paywall. When readership declines, they will open it up again and try to make money with ads.
The ferris wheel of shit.
That's what the news business is.
People who run the news business -- even people in New York and Washington -- don't know a damned thing about how to make money from it. They never did.
Journalists should never run things.
Look what they did to the National Press Club of Canada.
They ran a successful business into the ground.
Because journalists don't know how to do anything.
Like running an online newspaper. They think they should put up videos and podcasts.
People don't go to newspapers to watch videos.
People go to newspapers to read thoughtful pieces about what's going on in the world.
They don't want to go to the Globe and Mail and watch Lainie Lui talk about TIFF. But this weekend, there she was, the Etalk! tart featured on the cover of the Globe as the TIFF "special correspondent."
Made me want to puke.
People who want to watch video go to video sites which produce quality professional video products.
They don't go to newspapers which take their photographers and turn them into videographers, and thereby produce shit.
We are readers. We want to read. We don't want to watch.
And we won't respect your stupid paywall.
We'll get our news on Twitter!

No comments:

Post a Comment