Story image

To pay or not to pay

01 Mar 2010

A message on just how eagerly Web users might embrace the idea of paying for news online was received loud and clear recently, when US Web site Newsday.com decided to charge for access to its content. The charge was $US5 a week, or $260 a year. Three months later, just 35 subscribers had signed up.Newsday, based in Long Island and owned by the Dolan family, was undeterred by the poor response, despite having spent around $4 million on the site’s relaunch. Publisher Terry Jimenez said it was “35 more than I would have thought it would have been” – hardly a vote of confidence. It was also pointed out that subscribers to the newspaper and the Dolan family’s associated cable TV service had free access to the Web site.Although site traffic is down – 1.5 million unique visits a month compared to 2.2 million before Newsday started charging – its owners are persisting with the payment regime.More prominent in the ‘charge or die’ approach being adopted by newspaper proprietors is the New York Times, which announced earlier this year that starting in January 2011, it would be charging a flat fee for “unlimited access” to its online content. Casual readers will be able to read the home page, but there will be a limited number of articles they can read in full each month; once they exceed that limit (not yet stated), they will be asked to pay.Subscribers to the print edition will not be charged, and how much casual readers will pay has yet to be determined. Individual articles can still be read in full if accessed via search engines such as Google News.The risk being taken by the Times became clear immediately – share prices fell 39 cents after the announcement. Dissenting from the view that charging is key to survival is The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, who says paying to read newspaper sites could lead the industry to a “sleepwalk into oblivion”.Rusbridger describes paywalls as “a hunch”, and warns that wholesale adoption could shut the newspaper industry out of the digital revolution and the chance for greater engagement with readers.Newspapers would do better, Rusbridger says, to experiment with different online advertising models.Installing paywalls is a gamble – there are so many alternative sources of news and information. Those who decide to charge need to be sure that their content is of sufficient value.

Instagram: The next big thing in online shopping?
This week Instagram announced a new feature called checkout, which allows users to buy products they find on Instagram.
Google's Stadia: The new game streaming platform intertwined with YouTube
Move over Steam, Uplay, Origin and all the other popular gaming platforms – Google has thrown its hat in the ring and entered the game streaming market.
Privacy: The real cost of “free” mobile apps
Sales of location targeted advertising, based on location data provided by apps, is set to reach $30 billion by 2020.
How AI can transform doodles into photorealistic landscapes
The tool leverages generative adversarial networks, or GANs, to convert segmentation maps into lifelike images.
Apple's AirPods now come with 'Hey Siri' functionality
The new AirPods come with a standard case or a Wireless Charging Case that holds additional charges for more than 24 hours of listening time.
Five signs it may be time for a memory upgrade
Back it the day, a couple of gigabytes of memory would have done you. In fact, a couple of gigs would’ve been all you PC could actually use. With modern 64-bit operating systems like Windows 10, sky’s the limit.
Slingshot recruits celebs to design modems that aren’t eyesores
With most modems being banished to dark corners or closets, Slingshot is looking to change the trend with its uniquely designed modems.
NZ investment funds throw weight against social media giants
A consortium of NZ funds managing assets worth more than $90m are appealing against Facebook, Twitter, and Google following the Christchurch terror attacks.