Newspapers Hope Readers Will Throw Money Over the Wall

By: Mathew Ingram |

As the financial screws continue to tighten on traditional media companies, more and more are choosing to throw their eggs into the basket labeled “paywall,” despite a conspicuous lack of evidence that erecting barriers to non-paying readers – or turnstiles that charge them after they have read a certain number of articles – has any beneficial effects. The latest to go this route is the Dallas Morning News, which put up its wall this morning, and the New York Times is also said to be close to launching its metered-access plan as well. In the long run, however, these walls are really just sandbags against a rising tide of free content.

The Dallas Morning News paywall, which the paper has been working on since the middle of last year, does have some holes in it that are designed to mitigate the extent to which it shuts out readers: non-subscribers to the paper will be able to read headlines, blogs, obituaries, classifieds and any syndicated content for free, but local news will be blocked. And the news doesn’t come cheap: a subscription to the print newspaper and all of the Dallas publisher’s digital content (which includes an iPad app) is $33.95 a month, and an online-only subscription is $16.95 a month. By comparison, Rupert Murdoch’s new iPad app The Daily costs $3.96 a month or $39.99 for a year.

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