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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 18, 2009 @ 5:58 pm

    Free is, like. so over… apparently

    Hugh Linehan

    A bit more light has been shed on News International’s plans to charge for online content. James Harding, editor of the London Times, disclosed yesterday that his newspaper plans to charge for 24-hour access alongside a subscription model. Will it work?

    A lot of the debate following Harding’s announcement has centred on his dismissal of the micropayment model which was flavout to jour among paid content gurus earlier this year. But things change fast. These days, everyone’s talking about loyalty clubs, premium services, bundling different content packages to attract different kinds of users…

    One thing is absolutely sure. The days of unlimited access to all the newspapers in the world are numbered. Critics of NI’s strategy say Times readers will simply migrate to telegraph.co.uk or the BBC. But what if the Telegraph starts charging? And all the other British national press titles go along (the Guardian is the only one which has unabashedly stuck to its guns as a defender of free content)?

    In that case, different users will probably react in different ways. The longstanding, older reader loyal to a particular title, who may have switched some of his/her reading habits online in recent years, will probably either stump up or go back to dead trees.. Younger users, used to surfing across multiple sites, will balk at paying for access to just one and migrate towards whatever’s left free. And then there are lots of people in the middle: who knows what they’ll do? What do you think?

    NB: For a trenchant attack on Murdoch’s plans to delist from Google, read Jeff Jarvis’s ‘Nose, face, cut, spite: Blocking Google’

    • robespierre says:

      Crowdsourced content means that this cannot work. It just won’t.

      Newspapers are long gone anyway what we are talking about are Viewspapers.

      No disrespect but you had by far and away the most visited portal in Ireland and a great brand before you started charging for the IT.

      Mgt screwed that up for you because you weren’t making money from a great portal. I do have sympathy for you but I think that linking your content more and more to Web 2.0 applications and sponsored links is a revenue driver that could obviate the necessity to start charging.

    • ShelleyB says:

      At present, I read most newspapers online, if they become pay to view, I will not pay – no loss.

    • Mick says:

      I sympathise with the plight of many quality news organisations such as The Irish Times and The Guardian who are faced with decreasing readership due to the variety of online material available to readers. Since the websites for these newspapers have been shown to have had little financial success, it is hard to see any other future than paid subscriptions. When the IT online started charging some years back, I simply stopped accessing it, but would consider subscribing now. The days of the print newspaper are numbered, and if these media organisations are to survive, it is difficult to see alternatives for them online other than paid subscription. That said, I hope the FT, London Times and all other Murdoch propaganda fall flat on their a**es with this. A world without Newscorp – we can only dream…..

    • Stan Carey says:

      On the off-chance you haven’t seen this, Nieman Lab have an interesting post on Steve Brill’s set of pay-for-news models.

    • John Flaherty says:

      I purchased an Amazon Kindle a few months ago and I am happy to pay the $1.49 per issue of the Irish Times. There is content missing of course and as I am currently in Mexico I don’t get any pictures, but the quality of the journalism and the articles are worth paying for. I am sick of people’s spoilt attitudes with regard to content on the internet. I blame companies like Google and Apple for this and in a way the newspapers shot themselves in the foot providing online versions of their papers for free. Buf if someone provides me a service {in this case the reporting of news and informed opinion on current affairs} I am more than happy to pay for it for a reasonable fee.

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