I believe that news should be free and available to everyone, yet, I also realise that newspaper companies are primarily businesses in the pursuit of making money. These businesses are now experiencing significantly reduced income of physical newspaper sales due to the advent of digital publishing. This has effectively altered business practices and strategies. Various news companies are now looking to attract the public through the guilt and controversy of quantity and quality of news information, with the hope of the public to comply to the restrictions of price walls.
Historically, a major way in which the public could read about current news was through purchasing a physical copy of the newspaper. While still valued as a large part of the newspaper industry’s business model, the public are now exposed within an open online landscape in which various modes of publishing are available to the reader. In turn these companies must adapt to this change and take different approaches when it comes to the digital landscape.
Paywalls can also be based on conscience and civility by which it is right to pay for something you value. ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and the ‘Financial Times’ are two examples of news companies exploiting the public’s guilt of reading its content without paying, relying on their exclusivity and brand name, and depriving them of its content, forcing people to pay. This contrasts with the NY Times more open approach, providing free-of-charge access to viewable content without pay, promoting a landscape that provides the pleasure of reading its content. This has provem to be beneficial, by attracting more readers, young and old, and more subscribers towards a long-term goal. Although the advent of digital publishing on the surface, looks to negatively affect business profitability, it has, in fact, extended financial possibilities.
Paywalls are a fairly common approach within various news corporations feeling that it is necessary for the public to informational news content, many companies do not share this sentiment. The editor in cheif of ‘The Guardian’, Alan Rusbridger, is one man who believes that the introduction of paywalls within the digital revolution is an unnecessary solution that will remove the public from engaging with its content within an industry that is already engaing their readers more than ever before. He also asserts that paywalls could lead the industry to a ‘sleepwalk into oblivion’. Busfield (2010) Although paywalls seemingly provide revenue into the corporation in forms of monthly subscriptions, Rusbridger describes this as simply a ‘hunch’ Busfield (2010), with more lucrative possibilities by trying different business models, while maintaing generally free-of-charge content available to the viewer. This can be done by adopting new strategies. These strategies may include charging only mobile users who access the newspaper’s content, or charging only for specialised content.
Furthermore, the online landscape has provided transnational exposure to ‘The Guardian’ in what would otherwise be exclusive to only a UK audience. This is reflective of The Guardian’s 37m users coming from North America. This digital age is not simply a trend, but has ultimately changed the way in which the public express and organise themselves, the notion of authority, flexibility of time schedules, and resistance towards those who want to abandon free speech. If news corpoartions such as ‘News Corporation’ blatantly pursue pricewalls in hope of running competitors out of the industry, maximising their paying readership by capitalising on the public’s guilt, and depriving knowledge or information that could be otherwise accessed through a multitude of reputable sites online, they will find it increasingly difficult to compete in an environment that is offering free viewable content and competitiors increasing their viewing audience on a worldwide platform.
The promotion of an open web, regardless of socio-economic background, promoting free speech and the reduction of restrictions towards accescible news content is ideal in promoting a free and expressive climate that the digital age represents. References Busfield, Steve (2010) ‘Guardian editor hits back at paywalls’, The Guardian, January 25,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls> (The Editor of The Guardian, against paywalls)