Bitterwallet Friday poll - will you pay to read news online?

13 November 2009

Aside from looking like a person that is being kept alive by science alone, Rupert Murdoch is a man who has made millions out of traditional media. The free-flow of information on the internet is perceived as a threat by Murdoch, and the Media Mogul (TM) has been chuntering about adding pay-walls to his newspaper websites for some time, meaning that content won't be accessible without paying a subscription. It's expected The Times will be the first to charge for online content from next Spring, to be followed by the likes of The Sun and the News of the World later in the year.

Bitterwallet - The Times Online

This isn't anything new; the NYT attempted it in 2007 - 200,000 subscribers paid for access to archives and columnists but the revenues were considered too small to be worthwhile. The two newspapers that have successfully operated pay-walls for years are the FT and the Wall Street Journal, but these provide specialist content for a readership that can actively profit from the news and information available. The Times, on the other hand, is a more generic offering providing the sort of content that is available in plenty of other outlets.

The problem that the press can't get their head around is the drop in readership that will undoubtedly follow; it's very likely that any major newspaper that charges for online content will see their traffic drop to barely a few per cent of the current numbers. Sustainable online news in the future is unlikely to be about generating massive readerships, as has been the case of printed news in the past.

So back to the question - would you pay a monthly (or annual) subscription to read newspaper content online? Vote and let us know what you think.


  • Brian's U.
    Murdoch is completely out of touch. BBC News and The Guardian are all you need. Maybe a bit of Daily Mail just for laughs.
  • Lee
    These people are utter fools if they actually think people are going to cough up for something they can legally get free from elsewhere!
  • Tommy J.
    The question that really needs to be asked is how will the professional media will continue to function without some reliable income stream? Journalists, typesetters, photographers and web developers all need to be paid - we don't do this for free, although sometimes it feels like we might as well. If people are unwilling to pay for a quality news source, then it will disappear.
  • Jeffrey
    Tommy u whining ninny. Don't journalists get paid by advertising like most things on the internet or have i just imagined the last 20 years.
  • mein c.
    yo tommy your photography is pretty poor, might want to look into some composition lessons or something
  • The B.
    Perhaps if they stopped giving away free DVD/CD combos and concentrated on having a client base then they manage to actually hold a readership, bizarrely I have the Times delivered (bollocks to the "before 7:30am inside the M25", mine's never been earlier than 8am) and very rarely use the on-line website, and they should sort out their readership offers, so that only their readership can actually use it.
  • xman
    People *might* pay for the times - I would certainly consider paying for Guardian articles. I think it unlikely that the Sun or NoW would get many takers though. The Sun website (I am told by No Rock and Roll Fun) tries to drive people to buy the paper by having some items that are print only.
  • Paul
    If they all became subscription only I MIGHT pay for the Guardian, however never for any of murdoch's offerings.
  • MickeyB
    What Jeffrey said. Oh, and what the mein kampf guy said too, bye.
  • Tommy J.
    @jeffrey It would be great if that were the case, but advertising revenues are going down the pan rapidly - online advertising simply doesn't work anymore. It's not a case of whining, just a case of knowing the facts. @mein kampfy chair Opinions are like arseholes mate, and I've yet to have one complaint.
  • Kevin
    If I were to pay to look at the newspapers online then I wouldn't be paying a yearly or monthly feee. I would want to be able to pay 20p for a days access (for example). Unless you're mad for a certain columnist or other editorial content then whats the point? Apart from the Telegraph's MP Expenses scandal what was the last piece of 'proper' investigative journalism?
  • Tommy J.
    I think micropayments may be the way it happens - say 5p here and there for particular articles / features. That might work better than a subscription, IMHO.
  • bobby
    I wouldnt be bothered to put my credit/debit card details in to pay 5p for a news article. Plenty of free sources out there. The news is biased and filtered anyway
  • kyalion
    I would miss Jeremy Clarkson's column (ooh missus), but that's about all. And I know at the end of every year he'll produce a book that has all the previous years' columns in it, so no biggy for me. Give Murdoch enough rope, and as sure as eggs is eggs, he'll hang himself.
  • fsck
    I pay for a paper each working day, which I take to the pub and read for an hour over a gin and tonic or two (or three). I appreciate the linear nature of print news media, and enjoy the break it gives me from a life in front of a screen. I pay £1.00 per day for this, which I think is fair. The same news is available online, for free. So it's clear that I am not paying for the information, but the medium, which means that when I vote "no" above, it's a nuanced vote. Vis: I won't pay for news online, because I can get news *online* for free. But I'll pay for news in print. (Hell, I still pay for *paper books*, for fate's sake.) I know, on some level, that the research is what makes for quality news, but I just don't think it's the quality of reportage which differentiates print media it from it's online brethren. This is especially true of Murdoch's rags. Therefore, mister Murdoch, take your ball and refuse to play with us, you'll quickly find that no-one online really gives a shit.
  • fsck
    @Tommy: in re. Advertising revenue: Quote your sources please, if you want to be a journalist. I'd love to see a breakdown of total cost per physical newspaper (physical production and distribution only) vs cover price, and revenue from cover price vs. revenue from adverts. I'd also love to see how much papers are really making from online advertising. I suspect you don't have a clue either, only an opinion, And as you said yourself.....
  • er...
    I (and plenty of others) won't pay for e-news. I guess if you could download the paper/acticles to a kindle or jesusPhone people will certainly pay..think of the 'eco' qualities consumers fall for
  • zeddy
    The Times is currently trying to trash and bring down the BBC as it is mad it missed out on the MPs' expenses. Quite frankly it is going quickly down the drain. It is the Sun without tits.
  • Haleema
    I wouldnt pay for The Times Online I only buy the newspaper to look like a i know alot more than I really do And Im 16 XD
  • Gin a.
    Akin issues A, marketing is sharing?Your house also, add a link.These machines are, This allows them.Convenience store Smith Gin affiliate, they might just through Wednesday What.Major concern and, and mystics to.,

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