Tag: paywalls

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The Paywall Problem

This week the long-dreaded Washington Post renewal email plunked into my inbox. So ends a glorious year of reading the digital newspaper on PC and tablet. My cheap thrill ride is over: “Your subscription will be renewed for a year on Aug. 26, 2015, at the rate of $149/year. As you’ve requested, payments for your subscription to the Post are automatically charged to your credit card”. I requested nothing. The Post imposed auto-renewal, which I cancelled the next day. My sub now ends on August 26.

Twelve months ago, the Post made an amazing email offer, good for just 24 hours: “Get a Full Year of Unlimited Digital Access FOR AS LOW AS JUST $19!” Wow, what a deal. We splurged and went digital on any device for another ten bucks. Washington Post is worth $29 a year—and it’s a good value for $149, too. But all the paywall news sites want that kind of cash or more from me. I’m willing to pay for good journalism, but my budget can’t accommodate them all. 

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Should I Thank Jeff Bezos?

Seven years ago next month our family of three left the D.C. area for San Diego, to be close to my wife’s now 92 year-old dad. We miss Washington, and she still reads the Washington Post but complains about monthly story limits placed on non-subscribers. (The newspaper put up a paywall last year.)

About two weeks ago, we both received email from the Post, offering special all-digital access pricing: $29 for a year. That’s for smartphone, tablet, or the web for two accounts. According to the Post’s subscriber site, the regular web plus mobile subscription is $99 year, while Digital Premium, which adds “unlimited access to all tablet + mobile apps”, is $50 more. So, yeah, $29 is helluva deal, and I signed up—not knowing that is a $120 discount. 

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What's Behind the 'Wall Street Journal' Paywall?

The other day, I investigated current Wall Street Journal subscription pricing, as part of broader research about paywalls. The Journal still charges more than I want to pay but I am relieved to find one price for online, smartphone, and tablet.

People consume information contextually, so paid content should be available wherever they want to get it. What follows is my chat with a Journal sales rep, with full pricing.

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Put another Brick in the Paywall

As I update my long-neglected website and here review content relevant to forthcoming book Be a Better Blogger, some long-ago posts are surprisingly still relevant. I refer to “Can You Charge for News? Ask Google” (August 2009) and “The Price You Pay Google for Paywalls” (April 2010). The first looks at three different content sites and their visibility to Google search. Each uses a different paywall strategy. The second story assesses a website with all content behind a paywall.

Four years later, blog, news, and other content websites still grapple with the paywall question. Whether to charge? What to charge? When? Competition from sites delivering free content is major consideration. But another is often overlooked in the public discussion: Visibility in Google search.

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Paywalls are killing my Budget

I just cancelled the Sunday New York Times and took digital-only (browser and smartphone) for $15 a month, discounted by half for 12 weeks. My most recent home delivery bill was $33 and some change. For Sundays! A promotion cutting the price in half for 6 months expired in April. I’m not eligible for another deal, and I don’t get $7-plus a week value from Sundays and all-access digital.

I’ve subscribed to the Times since 2001.

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TechCrunch and Woot play to AP’s Weakness

Some people—heck, some organizations—have no sense of humor. Humorless perhaps best describes Associated Press, which apparently didn’t get Woot’s joke about owing money for a blog excerpt. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler put AP in its place today, that’s assuming there isn’t yet a nasty takedown-notice response coming.

Some quick background: About two years ago, AP decided that no one should excerpt its content without paying for it. The policy defies decades of journalist practices and fair-use laws. I could understand AP going after blocks of text, but no, it’s the little excerpts, too. Excerpt up to 50 words and AP expects you to pay $17.50; 100 bucks for 251 words or more. The approach is controversial, as it should be.

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Wall Street Journal's Pay-more Paywall demands Too Much

Do you pay Rupert Murdoch 18 bucks a month for a Wall Street Journal iPad subscription? I dare you to confess. Today, during News Corporation’s earnings call, CEO Murdoch claims that the Journal has 64,000 active users on iPad. Presumably one of them is you.

I ask because I see the Journal as having gone too far with its paywall approach. I’m testing iPhone 3GS again, and I downloaded the WSJ app last week. I logged in with my web subscription account, and the Journal let me read for a couple days. Then came the demand for more cash. Not much, just a buck a week. But I already pay for the web subscription, for which the Journal charges about $150 a year. So Murdoch wants another 52 bucks a year for iPhone and about another $215 for iPad, which I also am testing? OK, it’s only $207 a year for iPad if taking advantage of the $3.99-a-week promotion.

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The Price You Pay Google for Paywalls

Have you heard of Reid Reviews? Until this week I hadn’t either. The quality photography review site is nearly invisible to Google search. Paywall is almost certainly the major reason. Photographer Sean Reid charges a yearly subscription of $32.95. The price he charges readers carries a hidden cost: Google search visibility.

In August 2009, I asked: “Can You Charge For News? Ask Google“. In that post, I looked at different online publications, including Advertising Age and Wall Street Journal Online, to assess their Google visibility and effectiveness of their paywalls.

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There can't be a Free Web if No One Pays

Paywall is suddenly a hot topic as free content turns many longstanding businesses—news among—to apparent ruin. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take this anymore. This week Murdoch repeats his call for paid services during a U.S. Federal Trade Commission public workshop.

“We need to do a better job of persuading consumers that high-quality, reliable news and information does not come free,” he says. “Good journalism is an expensive commodity.”