How much green is behind that wall?
It's hard to find a newspaper executive who isn't frustrated by the revenue losses inflicted by an economy that's been slow to recover, or concerned about losses in print circulation, especially when those losses seem to be accelerated by growing online readership.
Paid online content systems aren't new. Some newspapers, like The Wall Street Journal and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, have had them in place for years. But the stories of the great failures are industry legends. And newspapers have shown great hesitation in adopting paid models — until now.
In the past 18 months, more and more dailies have rolled out pay model experiments — and The New York Times just announced it will join the movement in less than two weeks.
Is paid online content a viable option for general circulation daily newspapers? What role is played by strength of brand, quality, competition, uniqueness, and convenience? In a world of "free," what will it take for a paid-content effort to succeed?
The opening general session of the ASNE Convention in San Diego will feature a panel on this timely and critical topic that will provide answers to those questions.
Speakers include Jim Schachter, associate managing editor for The New York Times and NYTimes.com and industry analyst and "Newsonomics" author Ken Doctor.
They will be joined by Jeffrey Selingo, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education and Jon Broadbooks, executive editor of The State Journal-Register, in Springfield, Ill. University of Missouri professor and former editor of The Bakersfield Californian Mike Jenner will moderate the discussion.