Saturday, 3 July 2010

Behind the paywall...a sign of (bad) things to come

This week, for the first time ever, when thinking about subscribing to a magazine I decided it was probably better to subscribe to the edition-electronique rather than the paper edition.
It is a tad cheaper...and probably delivers quicker. It does mean that it won't be lying on the kitchen table!
But I can't help thinking that it's not quite right. But I guess I'll get over it.
Some of you may have noticed that I promote Ruth Gledhill's religion blog (here) from "The Times" of London. It is free no longer.
The Times has decided that they will charge people for the privilege of accessing this sort of material. I suspect that many, perhaps most, of us won't bother.
It is rather different I suggest to buying a whole magazine, I mean half the fun of blogs is not just the blogger's wisdom, but also the crackpot comments. It certainly doesn't seem right to pay for that!
This is part of a user-pays push that is going on worldwide in the Murdoch press. It's suggested that it won't be quite the same in Australia, but we will be paying for some content.
I tend to think that the reader doesn't need to pay for anything; that it can probably all be paid for by advertising, but I guess the difficulty is then that you don't value what you don't pay for.


Ruth Gledhill said...

Thank you for promoting my blog and for your understanding comments. I just posted this on Facebook: I understand how everyone feels but you also have to try and see it from our perspective. Even if only ten or five per cent of our present readers subscribe, according to reports I've seen on the web, we still make millions of pounds to offset our massive losses. We just cannot sustain the losses we have been taking, no organisation could. Other papers are in similar difficulty. Yes the web should be free but why should its products be? Google makes its money by giving away what other people put a lot of resources into creating. No-one would think that ok if it was music, or the kinds of goods that sell on eBay. None thinks everything on eBay should be free. Of course I see as well as anyone else how the present situation has built up and why people now think news should be free but it just can't be unless another financial model is found somehow. News just costs too much to produce.

stephen clark said...

Thank you so much for your comments.
I wonder if you know how highly regarded you are in the wider Anglican Communion (perhaps Lambeth could arrange for Anglicans worldwide to be subsidised subscribers to your blog.)
I think that your blog (more than most) has allowed constructive debate about a wide range of controversial issues to happen across the globe. I wish you well.
We live interesting times!!