Paywalls are the wrong solution
because they divide us even more
It’s not easy being a news site these days. Ad revenues are crumbling and Facebook has almost a stranglehold on peoples time. If you’re not on Facebook and paying them money for publicity then you might just as well not be there.
But putting up a paywall is not a good solution because it divides us in so many ways. Not only by our financial status which is serious enough, do we really want to have a different set of news for people depending on their income?
But also by our opinions. A person that voted for Trump is even less likely to see a NYT or WP article if she has to pay for the access. That person might be willing to check out what ‘the enemy of the people’ (the press in Trumps words) have to say, even if they agree with him but paying for it is out. We don’t need more division, we need more unity and trust.
Also using the ‘the first one’s always free’ method is bad because it’s negative marketing, it appeals to the scarcity element which does not induce a positive attitude towards the news site.
Note that I’m not blaming those news sites in any way, they’re just trying to stay alive and frankly speaking, most of them are too big to be able to do any real innovation but are trying out known models to solve their financial problems.
Not everyone is using this model of course and there are many experiments going on, a nice short overview (def not comprehensive but nothing is) is on New business models for journalism.
Better News has a unique model for tackling this issue and all our basic news will be free for everyone, always. Because although there maybe is no such thing as a free lunch, free information is a basic foundation pillar of a free people.