World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Paywalls: lessons learned and competitor reaction

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Paywalls: lessons learned and competitor reaction

Dirk Nolde (left), managing editor of Berliner Morgenpost Online:

“Communication, communication, communication,” he says. “You have to tell your readers why you are doing this. Normally, we say there is a lot of quality behind it, new ways of telling stories, graphics, video, etc.”

  1. “This is not a supermarket, meaning we are not selling everything. You have to give some things away. We have a lot of free content to accommodate readers and users.”
  2. “Get digital. Produce content that is really worth being paid for. You have to make them say, ‘Wow, that was really good.’”

Jim Roberts (center), assistant managing editor of The New York Times:

  1. “Communication is huge. We had our publisher write a letter that we put on the website and the paper, going into deep detail. We also used social media to communicate this. We even responded to people who were complaining or did not quite understand what we were doing. I explained to those on social media that they can still access the site for free, and I could almost feel a sigh of relief there.”
  2. “Building a solid technological platform to make it as easy as possible for users. With our experiment earlier with charging for opinion content, we had big problems on the technological side.”
  3. “Customer service. You have to have people who can answer phones and questions, especially for our print subscribers to link their accounts, for example.”

Matúš Kostolný (right), editor-in-chief of SME in Slovakia:

“I only have one lesson: Don’t be afraid to raise the wall and experiment. That is the only thing that has helped us. We raised the wall in May this year and we have to change it constantly, but you have to start somewhere and remain open and flexible.”

Competitor reaction

Nolde of the Berliner Morgenpost said there are five newspapers in the region and “we are the only paper that is charging. As I said, it was sheer horror when we launched, but two years later, there are a few apps from other competitors, but nobody has charged for their websites."

Roberts of the NY Times says, “I am a little surprised that most of our competitors have not done that much since we launched. The Wall Street Journal’s setup is a bit different, and a bit confusing to me as to what they charge for. But the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, etc., have not started charging. Perhaps many of those are focusing more on apps for phones and tablets.”


Dean Roper's picture

Dean Roper


2011-10-15 10:37

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