While establishing a paywall does not create quality online journalism, it is more likely that ad-supported journalists are going to be measured by different metrics than those working for paywall-supported sites, and those metrics will likely include things like raw page views.
The obvious point to be made here, though, is that for a paywall site to be successful, the quality of content must be high enough to justify the “entrance fee” – a high threshold to overcome. Things like general reputation of the publication’s brand contribute a lot to this. For most online journalism, especially new sites, the ad-supported model will continue to be the best route.
Originally posted on Gigaom:
There are plenty of arguments for why a newspaper or other traditional media outlet might decide to implement a paywall — including a need for revenue to supplement declining print advertising, or a desire to form a stronger bond with its readers. But do paywalls automatically mean that you get better journalism? In other words, does a free and ad-supported model mean that the journalism you get is of lower quality, because of the “hamster wheel” effect? Dean Starkman makes that case in the Columbia Journalism Review, but his argument rests on some pretty flimsy ground. The reality is that the connection between journalistic quality and paywalls is not as concrete as he makes it seem.
In his CJR column, which is entitled “The hamster wheel vs. the quality imperative,” Starkman takes aim at Digital First Media — the newspaper chain run by John Paton, which…
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