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The fresh eyes of a next generation journalist examine paywalls and concludes they are “the best option for newspapers moving forward.” How to sell customers? "It's a matter of fairness."

Filling the Meter: Measuring the Effectiveness of Paywalls for Online Revenue

John Winn Miller was convinced an online paywall could not work. Miller, the former publisher of The Olympian — a daily Washington state newspaper with a daily print circulation of more than 30,000 — and current publisher of the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire, firmly believed any form of an online paywall would cost newspaper online advertising revenue. But, in May 2011, Miller, a mere seven months after assuming the position, officially completed his about-face, and the Concord Monitor launched its own version of a metered paywall. It would not be fair, Miller theorized, for cell phone subscribers to receive a free service while landline subscribers are charged for phone service, so why should online readers see all of the Monitor’s content for free while print subscribers face rising home delivery rates?…

A metered paywall is “sticking” in many newsrooms as an attempt to increase digital, content-based revenue. A qualitative study showed that exclusive, enterprise and niche content behind a paywall are helping the bottom line. The study included primary sourcing and interviews with 10-15 publishers and editors in online-only and newspaper newsrooms, as well as media industry executives and experts. The study attempts to address paidcontent concerns as journalism continues its transition from print products to online and seeks new ways to have audience pay for content….

Sources and original interviews include but are not limited to Marty Baron, editor of The Boston Globe; Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at the Columbia Journalism School and former deputy managing editor for The Wall Street Journal; Alan Mutter, author of the “Reflections of the Newsosaur” blog and adjunct lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism; Mike Davis, assistant managing editor for digital development and sports editor of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; and Rick Edmonds, media business analyst for The Poynter Institute.” Source: Filling the Meter: Measuring the Effectiveness of Paywalls for Online Revenue.

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