Paying For Journalism

I think I’m the last blogger to comment on the NYT paywall:

“I believe that our journalism is very worth paying for,” said Jill Abramson, The Times’s managing editor for news. “In terms of ensuring our future success, it was important to put that to the test.”

I also think the Times’ journalism is worth paying for, and I’m happy to pay the price they’re asking. But it’s always worth emphasizing in these discussions that the widespread view among journalists that readers have traditionally paid for journalism is a mistake. Readers have traditionally paid for paper, ink, and distribution of physical media. The price goal of subscriptions is to cover costs so that you can maximize subscribers without going bankrupt. Then you make money by selling ads. The drive to produce journalism that people will want to pay for is, itself, part of the brave new world of the internet. I think it’s fundamentally a good thing—the challenge is for people to do journalism that’s so good that people will pay for it—but it’s a new thing.