Hi. My name is Adam.

Paywall debate brings out worst in media critics

Posted in blogging, economy, journalism, news by adambsullivan on April 8, 2010

Rupert Murdoch thinks paywalls will make news orgs viable. He says it all the time; it’s not news. Still, every time he brings up his Wall Street Journal pay-for-news model, the media conversation swells with attacks on Murdoch:

Murdoch just doesn’t get it
Murdoch misunderstands the Internet news world
Murdoch getting lonely inside his walled garden
No, Mr. Murdoch, they’ll stop caring

As I’ve blogged before, there are emerging business models which I think could make content operations profitable. However, I’m still sympathetic to paywall models as well. I don’t know for sure what will work. Neither does anyone else.

But we should be thankful that Murdoch’s WSJ (and a handful of others) are trying the paywall model. We can tweet and blog as much as we want, but unless we conduct real-world business model experiments, we make no progress. Maybe it will work long-term and maybe it won’t; we can’t know if nobody tests it.

As far as I can tell, attacks on Murdoch’s paywall position aren’t attacks on paywalls at all: They’re manifestations of political resentment. Most of the prominent players in the media conversation are liberals and Murdoch has oft thrown his weight behind conservative movements. It makes sense that bloggers would attack Murdoch, but it’s petty nonetheless.

We all agree we need news. And most of us agree we need a professional class of content-producers. Citizen journalism can be part of the new media landscape, but it can’t be the whole of it. Accordingly, we need to develop a way(s) to fund journalism. That development relies on our being allies.

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One Response

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  1. Mitchell Powell said, on April 8, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Howdy.

    I’m the guy who wrote “Murdoch misunderstands the Internet news world,” and I just want to make one thing clear. I’ve got no beef with Murdoch creating a pay wall. It may work for him and it may keep an excellent set of business operations in place. My quibble is with the way he thinks that the internet works–especially his belief that all newspapers can act in unison to keep their stories away and force users to pay, which just isn’t feasible and ignores the competitive nature of the news market.


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