Thanks for passing along the McClure link. It was an interesting vent followed by some useful perspectives in the comments.
Still, it seems to me that we continue to have some broader-view dogs not barking in the typical discussion about paywalls versus ad models:
To a large extent, the delivery of information is still held hostage by predatory pricing and services control on the part big telco and big cable. What this has done has set up a framework in which news consumers are reluctant to pay more because they have already paid once.
There are indications that, even when readers are willing to pay for subscriptions, there are serious disconnects between what publishers think the price point should be, and what a typical reader thinks the price point should be. From the standpoint of numbers, you get into a situation of cost/benefit issues where the costs of customer service and decreased page views can more than offset a realistic subscription revenue stream.
One of the other things which seems to be largely ignored is the fact that readers who visit a news website are providing something of a quid pro quo with their time, attention, and story comment engagement. In the usual quest for more-is-always-better, we also tend to ignore the fact that some visitors have more value than others.
It can also be argued that a more-and-bigger obsession has led to an interesting irony in that the original purpose of the internet was to act as a distributed system, and not be dependent on any single point of failure. Therefore, the question becomes why has that paradigm shifted into a model where overwhelming dominance comes from a limited set of vendors such as Google, or Facebook, or Twitter?
At the risk of a bad sports metaphor, it’s as if what we’re seeing is a game of baseball in which every player steps to the plate and is expected to either hit a home run or strike out. And there is simply no provision for winning the game by getting a series of base hits.
Yet another irony among those chanting the “information wants to be free” mantra, as if information is some sort of trained bear chained to a post, is that the quote originally comes from Stewart Brand, and what tends to get ignored is the other part of what Brand said:
“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”
Just my two cents…
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Web veteran Jason Fry explores the challenges faced by newspapers in the digital world.