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Washington Post To Go Paywall, Along With Buffett-Owned Local Papers 163

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-use-of-the-word-reportedly dept.
McGruber writes "The Washington Post reports that the Washington Post, and local newspapers owned by Warren Buffett, are all planning to follow the New York Times and install metered paywalls." Buffett's got more than 80 papers right now, and hasn't quit buying them. There's some time to read the WaPo sans paywall, but by mid-year it may be up.
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Washington Post To Go Paywall, Along With Buffett-Owned Local Papers

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  • by TwoOfBob (2790593) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:24PM (#42221605)
    With the easy access to quality international newspapers why would one use Washington Post?
  • by vivek7006 (585218) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:29PM (#42221661) Homepage

    Firefox rules. I have been using addons refcontrol to take care of paywalled websites like nytimes.com, wsj.com etc.
    linky: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/refcontrol/ [mozilla.org]

  • by TwoOfBob (2790593) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:32PM (#42221683)
    You do know that only works because enough people don't care to use it, right?
  • by Tx (96709) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:52PM (#42221845) Journal

    Presumably Buffet is making the same assumptions as Murdoch did in putting The Times (UK) behind a paywall a couple of years ago, namely that a) a tiny number of paying subscribers brings in more money in fees than millions of freeloaders do in ad revenue, and b) hopefully many more major publications will follow suit sooner or later, thus making it harder for people to get quality content for free, and so increasing the chance that they'll decide to pay for their news. There is some evidence [guardian.co.uk] that paywalls work if done right, and are working for the New York Post, the evidence seems slightly more mixed [guardian.co.uk] for The Times, I guess we're a smaller market in the UK, so it will be harder to make it work here. Whether it will be true for the Washington Post remains to be seen, but it's not completely crazy.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Friday December 07, 2012 @08:54PM (#42221861) Homepage Journal

    WASHINGTON POST PLUMMETS TO DEATH.

    The NY Times is steadily failing, like a ship with a small leak. Its perforated paywall, not withstanding.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:04PM (#42221929)

    it only works because the companies are real lazy ...

    Not lazy. Smart. They want as many readers as possible, paying or not, because those readers generate ad revenue and "buzz" as they discuss the articles, and put links to them in blogs, facebook posts, etc. They would rather have as many of those readers pay up as possible, but would rather keep them as unpaying customers than lose them completely. So they put up a paywall to get revenue from readers willing to pay, but they still keep the readers that are willing to put in some effort to circumvent the paywall.

    The situation is similar with software. Software publishers want people to pay, but would rather have people "pirate" their software than not use it at all, because they know that helps them build market share in the long run.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday December 07, 2012 @09:45PM (#42222245) Homepage

    Except that a few newspapers, the NY Times in particular, actually do have original content. You may not agree with the content or it's biases, but it is 'unique'. That presumably has some value and it certainly has a cost.

  • by knorthern knight (513660) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:52PM (#42222879)

    I believe that the newspaper industry's underlying problems existed before the internet. Yes, the internet exacerbated them and sped up the collapse, but they were around before the internet. I believe that, even without the internet, these problems would've eventually hit newspaper publishing revenues, but it would've taken longer to do so.

        First question... what was the newspaper business model? For many advertisers, newspapers were the only source of eyeballs for their products/services before the internet. Newspapers used their print advertising monopoly to charge extremely high ad rates, which paid for...
    * the cost of printing/running the ad
    * paying reporters and foreign correspondents all over the country and around the world
    * and a nice fat 30%+ annual ROI for shareholders
    In plain English, newspapers effectively levied a tax on advertisers. This defacto "advertising-tax" paid for newspaper journalism, among other things.

        The newspaper business model, which subsidized journalism, could be attacked by advertisers getting their products/services in front of customer eyeballs by a method other than newspaper ads ("advertising-tax avoidance"). The "advertising-tax avoidance" scenario played out over the years...

    * "Auto Trader Magazine" was established in 1977. See http://www.manta.com/c/mmj727f/auto-trader-magazine [manta.com] It had one major advantage over newspaper classifieds... it did not have the overhead of paying for the salaries/accomadations/airline-tickets of reporters all over the planet. It was an advertising "pure play", that had a lot less overhead than a newspaper, and could make a profit while charging much lower ad rates.

    * Right now in Toronto (where I live) there are 2 or 3 free weekly employment "papers" (to use the term loosely) that can be picked up at newspaper boxes around the city. They're 1/2 tabloid size. One reason they can use the free model is that they don't have to pay for reporters, etc. The ads paid for by employers are sufficient.

    * Back in the mid-1980's, when I was looking for a place to live in Toronto, I found "The Real Estate Weekly". It was a free 1/2 tabloid put out by the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a co-operative venture of local real estate firms. It had a lot more leeway that Auto Trader or the employment weeklies. Auto Trader and the employment weeklies are put out by for-profit corporations. "The Real Estate Weekly" could break even, or even lose a bit of money. But as long as it cost the the member real estate firms less than running ads in local papers, the real
    estate firms came out ahead.

    * Major national chains began printing their own advertising flyers and having newspapers insert them ("advertising inserts"). The original reason was that it was a pain for a national outfit to co-ordinate running the same ad at the same time at dozens of papers across the country, or even a region. Also, there were some newspapers that didn't have 4-colour presses, and were physically incapable of printing the multicoloured ad inserts. Then the national chains found out that it cost a lot less to do their own printing, and let the newspapers do the physical delivery. Then, with falling newspaper circulation, it became obvious that the newspaper deliveries covered only part of the target market. The only way to cover all of a market was to either...
        - have a private firm deliver the flyers door-to-door (suitable for single-dwelling units)
        - or send the flyers as 3rd-class "junkmail" to all units in rental and condominium buildings

        Notice something about the 4 examples above? There is no mention whatsoever of the internet or the World Wide Web. Even in a pre-web world, newspapers were losing classified ad revenues for used cars, employment, real estate, and retail advertising to non-newspaper competitors. The competitors have now expanded to websites, but the first losses were occuring before the web existed.

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