One of the biggest publishing topics of the week was the surprising news that paywalls do work -- for newspapers at least. Gannett reported that digital revenues at its local domestic publishing operations increased 76 percent due to its content subscription model. The New York Times reported 12 percent increase in paying digital subscribers.
The idea behind the paywall is that with everyone now being a publisher (brands, bloggers, social media fanatics), newspapers and other publications bring something different to the table: we have trained journalists (with a J-school background), and our quality of work is better. We are established and credible, and according to a recent study by Knowledge Networks, more Americans turn to established media to get the in-depth story on breaking news. So why shouldn't readers pay?
With this thought, many other newspapers are following suit, including the Chicago Tribune and The Globe and Mail. So, could this apply to b-to-b? We have trained journalists. We value high-quality journalism. Our readers want our work. The short answer? Perhaps, but not the Gannett way. The long answer? Give away the news and charge for commentary and community.
While it is a noble point of view -- a view that believes good, quality journalism should be able to sustain a business; that content is not only king, but a dictator; that if readers want it, they will pay -- it's not the way publishing works these days. In fact, one of the first decisions Penske Media made after its Variety acquisition, was to drop the paywall (reports say employees cheered).