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Media Relations Minute: Thank you for being a loyal customer…now pay us



Since The Wall Street Journal began charging for access, Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp and a host of other sites have followed suit.  The New York Times has announced a plan to begin a “paywall” structured site in 2011. Similar modifications are under way at abcnews.com and Newsday Publications’ sites to make way for paid-for content.

A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Institute revealed that, if asked to pay for online news access, 82 percent of those surveyed would find their news elsewhere.  That begs the question: Who  belongs to the leftover 18 percent?

Answer: The fiercely loyal readers.  The New York Times has said that the paywall structure targets its die hard online consumers.  This goes against the grain of our consumer-centric culture. After decades of rewarding brand loyalty with frequent flier miles and frequent diner discount cards, paywall news sites aim to turn the prevailing consumer logic on its head by encouraging indiscriminate news site surfing.   Readers who glean their daily news from a multitude of sites, or simply skim headlines without delving into full-text articles, columns, and blogs, will escape having to pay, leaving an allegiant few with the check.

To learn more, read an overview of the Pew Research Institute’s study, entitled “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” or download it in its entirety.


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