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Old 02-26-2010, 02:12 PM   #1
Steven Lyle Jordan
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Murdoch's paywalls are 'antithetical to everything' claims Guardian's Rusbridger

From CampaignLive.co.uk:

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Speaking at an event hosted by digital agency Albion, (Alan) Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, outlined his vision of the role that journalists and newspapers will play in an internet-led future, and took another sideswipe at Murdoch's "dubious" business model...

The editor-in-chief was also vociferous about the "open" model of the internet and the philosophy of "do what you do best and link to the rest".
Rusbridger believes the free and open nature of the web is inviolable, and anyone who disobeys that nature is doomed to failure. So far, only a small amount of content has managed to remain behind paywalls on the web. But will it always be that way? Magazines and other periodicals envision the continuance of the subscription system, as well as paying for individual issues (possibly individual articles). They see no other way they can survive in the long run. Are they wrong?

In other industries and media, compelling content and attractive presentation (and sometimes the threat of being shut out if you disobey the rules) is enough to justify individuals' paying for content. It works wonderfully in the cable industry, for instance. Is there some reason this cannot be true for web media as well? The answer may well impact the amount and quality of the content we can expect out of the web, and out of periodicals that transition to the web.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:35 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
In other industries and media, compelling content and attractive presentation (and sometimes the threat of being shut out if you disobey the rules) is enough to justify individuals' paying for content. It works wonderfully in the cable industry, for instance. Is there some reason this cannot be true for web media as well? The answer may well impact the amount and quality of the content we can expect out of the web, and out of periodicals that transition to the web.
There are a number of "pay for access" web sites which are successful. Examples, to name but two that immediately spring to mind, are the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary sites. It seems to be a model that works especially well for "reference" type sites.
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:02 PM   #3
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I tend to agree, myself. There are, of course, other examples of paid access sites that do well (Can you say "Porn"? I knew ya could). And those are pure entertainment sites. The subscription model is a successful one, as long as content is considered valuable to somebody.

Generally, paid content tends to be superior to free content on the web. There's a good reason for that, and anyone who appreciates superior content can understand it. On the web there is ample room for both, to satisfy those who are okay with basic content at zero cost, and those who are willing to pay for quality content and stand above the crowd.
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:21 PM   #4
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Generally, paid content tends to be superior to free content on the web. There's a good reason for that, and anyone who appreciates superior content can understand it.
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:45 PM   #5
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There are a number of "pay for access" web sites which are successful. Examples, to name but two that immediately spring to mind, are the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary sites. It seems to be a model that works especially well for "reference" type sites.
Successful as compared to what? Do you mean at least still in existence?

You can't mean as profitable as they were before the internet decimated their sales. You can't mean as relevant as before the internet ate their lunch. You cant mean as popular as Wikipedia or Google.

Pay for access sites are doomed to a long and drawn-out slide into oblivion. The only thing they have going for them is their remembered reputation with the older generations. I don't think that many people under 20 would even recognise their names today. If you can't search their site, link to their pages or quote from their content — they don't exist.
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Old 02-26-2010, 04:32 PM   #6
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There are a number of "pay for access" web sites which are successful. Examples, to name but two that immediately spring to mind, are the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary sites. It seems to be a model that works especially well for "reference" type sites.
I've got free online access to both of those, and others, using my library card number and a PIN. There's so much free information on the net that I can't think of anything I'd be prepared to pay for.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:17 PM   #7
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Lucid as ever, eh?

Come on, then, get up and discuss a bit...
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:24 PM   #8
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It works wonderfully in the cable industry, for instance.
This is a perfect example of how it does not work. I have Comcast, and it is way way overpriced for what you get. We certainly do not want the Internet to turn into anything even close to resembling the cable model.

Last edited by CyGuy; 02-26-2010 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:34 PM   #9
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This is a perfect example of how it does not work. I have Comcast, and it is way way overpriced for what you get.
Which is why I don't have cable.

Why do you?
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:38 PM   #10
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Which is why I don't have cable.

Why do you?
I really don't have a good excuse. I feel so used...
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Old 02-26-2010, 06:16 PM   #11
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I've got free online access to both of those, and others, using my library card number and a PIN. There's so much free information on the net that I can't think of anything I'd be prepared to pay for.
I think that some online content has a future - on-line movies, for example, and closer to home - perhaps an on-line ebook service (although it would have to beat the libraries on service). Baen have their web subscription service. My son is in Club Penguin - and a lot of on-line services are like this, where you can have a go for free, but membership adds benefits. People pay to be members of gaming sites. I'm sure that people can think of lots of examples, and as more activities move online, I think that there will continue to be a place for paid-for content and services.
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Old 02-26-2010, 06:57 PM   #12
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Just to through out my two cents... I think there is an inverse relationship between free info/pay info vs audience.

For example, everyone pretty much needs search engine / email / etc... so those types of information/services can work with an add supported model.

However, information such that is more detailed... for example, articles on the care and feeding on Ninja Attack Squirrels. The market will be much smaller so an add supported site probably won't make ends meet. Espessially if they pay for quality writers with NAS expertise.

Try to provide info or a service online that everyone can already get for free on an add supported site, and you will go out of business quickly.

Provide quality info or service on a focused topic and people will be willing to pay for it...

At least, that's my two cents.

BOb
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Old 02-27-2010, 05:48 AM   #13
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I've got free online access to both of those, and others, using my library card number and a PIN.
But that doesn't change the fact that they are "pay for" sites. In this case, it's your library that's paying.
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Old 02-27-2010, 05:52 AM   #14
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Try to provide info or a service online that everyone can already get for free on an add supported site, and you will go out of business quickly.

Provide quality info or service on a focused topic and people will be willing to pay for it...
Yes, of course, and that's the point. Wikipedia is fine for the great majority of people. But if you're a "serious" researcher, Britannica is worth paying for. It's not about "popularity", it's about filling the needs of a specialist market.
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Old 02-27-2010, 06:01 AM   #15
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Murdoch's paywalls are 'antithetical to everything' claims Guardian's Rusbridger
He would say that, wouldn't he, since his paper is in competition with the Times.

The Guardian is losing money and is only being supported by other titles in GMG's stable -- notably Auto Trader magazine. I have no brief for News International, but someone, somewhere, has to pay the salaries of newspaper staff if such a thing as a newspaper is still to exist. If it isn't, then Rusbridger should have the honesty to say so and shut the Guardian down.

As a matter of fact, given much of its content, I wouldn't mind if he just shut it down anyway.
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