Sunday, January 30, 2022

"Media experts sound alarm on rise of paywalled content"

The scribes have to somehow get paid and I'm not sure if the answer will be micropayments (not successful to date but crypto may change that) or something like PressReader or the sugar daddy approach like the Guardian's Scott Trust Limited + Bill Gates but that can be very expensive money.

Here's Axios with one part of the conundrum:

It’s a bull market for media companies targeting high-end readers, with Justin Smith and Ben Smith joining the likes of Puck, Air Mail, The Information, Axios, Punchbowl News, and others targeting influential, wealthy individuals with new digital publications.

Why it matters: "In this commercial environment, quality is being supported by paying audiences," said Rodney Benson, chair of NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. "Obviously, long-term, this is going to have tremendously negative civic effects."

  • "We're already experiencing those effects."

Details: As more of these outlets and paywalls pop up, academics and media opinion leaders have begun to voice concern over whether our society is paying enough attention to marginalized populations when it comes to news.

  • A new survey of senior media leaders globally suggests growing concern that new business models, and specifically subscriptions, "may be pushing journalism towards super-serving richer and more educated audiences and leaving others behind."
  • "That's how the business model works in a capitalistic system," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and founder of "The problem is that we can't have so much behind paywalls, that the public that can't afford to break through."

Flashback: A few years ago, media companies were pushing to scale their free offerings on social media, leading to a slew of economics problems between premium publications and tech platforms.

  • Today, many have regained control of their intellectual property via subscriptions. Free content is still available online for those willing to seek it, but social media algorithms, particularly on Facebook, have evolved to prioritize content from friends and family over brands and publishers.

Be smart: Some of the new subscription publications differ from corporate enterprise subscriptions that have existed for many years, which are usually sold via seat licenses for thousands of dollars per year, although there is some overlap....


The article goes on to mention the possibility of government funding but that option always brings to mind the universal truth "He who pays the piper calls the tune".

A slightly intermediated way to use government funding would be to issue vouchers to the populace, that individuals would then direct toward sources of news, analysis, fact and opinion.

This approach would probably set off the maddest scramble for loot that the media biz has ever seen.