US newspaper to pioneer new dual website online model


When you think of self-sufficient online news the term paywall comes to mind. But fears over putting off readers by introducing a fee-for-content system remain prevalent in newsrooms, and though some print media titles have shown it can be done these have predominantly been niche or business leaning publications (FT), while mainstream counterparts have faltered more noticeably after beginning to charge (The Times), suggesting such concerns are not without at least an ounce or two of validity.
The result is that some believe charging online readers is the way forward , and others are equally vocal in their disapproval of this ‘closing up of the internet’. With that in mind more than a few people would be interested in a model that neither dismisses the paywall advocates, or denies the conscientious objectors their free news, and today The Guardian ran a story concerning exactly that.
As of next month theĀ Boston Globe could stop similar newspapers from having to make the black and white decision as to charge or not, because the US title will continue to offer toll-free online access, while also charging some website visitors. That may sound a little odd, so let’s expound. The pay wall goes up, but in front of a new sister-site, BostonGlobe.com, which will charge $3.99 for a weekly subscription.
Meanwhile, back at Boston.com, the old established web address, those unwilling to pay for what they read can still access 20 new blogs, sports news, topical articles and some stories from the paper. All of which begs one question; how can anyone guarantee enough interest in the paid for website so as to have any chance of stabilising, let alone reversing, the financial shortcomings that have befallen this, and so many other traditionally print-based publications?
Of course it’s impossible to guarantee anything in the media. Further more, speculations and predictions are often unwise. As such it would be foolish to attempt this here, so let’s just say it’s a bold move that’s no doubt set to be costly in the immediate. But as a new experiment in online remuneration other locals and regionals need to keep an eye on developments in Boston over the next few months, because there’s a worryingly strong argument that nobody has thought of a better idea than this yet, regardless of whether it works or not.