Would paid online media mean more print subscribers?

by Jason Preston on August 21, 2009

I know, I know, I’ve heard a million reasons why Rupert Murdoch’s plan to charge for new content online is insane and will never work. But let’s assume it works.

Idiotic google-bashing aside, I think there’s a big enough market for news to accommodate both paid and unpaid media options, and I see no reason why the major newspapers can’t be the ones to move a significant portion of their content behind pay walls successfully.

(My take on pay walls & DRM, incidentally, is “make it a deterrent, not a restriction.” Success means most people follow the rules, the system will always be hackable).

But let’s assume for a minute that it works. What will happen to print subscriptions?

I get three newspapers in the morning every day (two on Sunday): the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Seattle Times. And I read far more news in print that I ever have, or probably ever will, online. Print, it turns out, is a pretty nice way to get your news.

If I had to pick between an online and a paper news subscription, I’d pick the paper subscription. Granted, I’m weird. But I don’t think I’m alone. What do you think?