The irony is painfully obvious: A pay wall stopped me from reading about putting up pay walls and I had no problem detouring around it to read free (and better) accounts.

First, he didn’t read the content behind the paywall, so he doesn’t know which is better.

Second, he’s not the target market for paid online content. The target market for paid online content is: “people who would rather remember a username and password than root around in the cesspool for something else to read.” You buy brand, you buy trust, you buy personalization, convenience, and timeliness.

If you don’t care about any of those things. Feel free to keep swimming.


1 Wendy Parker 04.16.09 at 4:09 pm

I’ve been taken aback by the vociferous opposition to paid content from Jarvis and others, and frankly quite overwhelmed by the whole argument. Because something didn’t work in the past means that it won’t work, in varying ways, in the future? There’s an absolutism at work here that I don’t understand. Should everything be for free? That’s the impression I get reading them.

But this is all way over my head. I’m not an expert on business models and pay options but am part of an online news startup that’s approaching revenue production from a number of approaches, to see what will work. And what people will pay for.

Thanks for offering some enlightenment that cuts through the cloud of “Pay, no way!”

2 Zack S 04.17.09 at 6:16 am

Wendy, I couldn’t agree with you more. The polarizing absolutism of the entire discussion is a bit absurd. It seems the pay system is working for the Wall Street Journal. Good for them. Keep it up. Jason, I think you might have a problem charging for access, so it behooves you (and countless others) to offer it for free. Good for you.

As you perfectly state someone searching for one specific article is not the WSJ’s target for paid content. I see no reason why we need to subscribe to one universal model for every single website. It will be a process, but I’m sure trial and error will sort this market out in a way that varies from website to website.

3 Sammy Z. 04.21.09 at 1:39 am

Zack mentioned the case of someone who is searching for a particular article. I’m reminded that the N.Y. Times (currently) offers free access for current stories – they’re apparently generating their revenues from advertising. They then leverage their content by archiving it and making it available for a price. One can purchase single articles or purchase access for a fixed period of time – for 48 hours or for a month, for example. So there are a multiple of revenue-generating approaches out there.

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