The glory days of free online news may be coming to a close. Traditional newspapers may have had a rough time transitioning from print to digital but have they finally found a way to recover lost revenue?
According to the latest media trends, many major news organizations have started imposing stricter rules on their free content and they are putting most of their content behind a subscription service, commonly known as a "paywall."
These trends are forcing people who are seeking traditional journalistic content to subscribe to and pay for at least one major online news service.
With the recent moves of tech giants like Facebook and Google to support paywall subscriptions on their services, and Apple waiving its commission for news service subscriptions, it appears that the tech industry is recognizing the value of journalism.
The rise of the news paywall
Free news, of course, is not going away but with the proliferation of fake news and the current political climate, consumers are starting to embrace the importance of investigative reporting and journalism.
But to maintain the quality and top-shelf news we expect from major news outlets, people will have to pay up to keep them sustainable.
According to media analysts, with the current news paywall subscription trends, some news organizations are already starting to see 70 percent of their revenues from subscriptions.
The New York Times' paid subscribers grew to 2.6 million and The Washington Post had more than a million subscribers last year. Interestingly, both of these outlets have limited their number of monthly free articles.
Similar strategies are now being employed at other news outlets including The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times, and magazines like "Wired" and "The New Yorker."
Advertising is not enough
The main reason for the push for the paywall model by news organizations is this - the revenue advertising is not enough. Especially with the popularity of ad blockers, the website advertising model is not sustainable for most free online news outlets.
And this poses a problem for local and niche news websites with tighter budgets. While popular news organizations can survive by charging for subscriptions, it will be a challenge for smaller organizations to survive solely on ad revenues.
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