-By Warner Todd Huston
The Washington Post is poised to initiate a paywall in 2013. The Post is one of the last major American papers to look into putting some parts of its publication behind a subscriber only Internet screen.
The Wall Street Journal reports that The Washington Post is preparing a “metered paywall” for its Internet site. A metered paywall allows readers to see a few articles per month before blocking any more access and informing the visitor that he must pay to read further.
But ahead of this new attempt to improve revenue, ThePost has been seeing a steep decrease in earnings.
The Post is dealing with a steep decline in its core business of print advertising. Its newspaper division reported an operating loss of $56.3 million for the first nine months of the year, reflecting a 14% decline in revenue to $160.7 million. The company lost its chief revenue officer in the spring, and the search for a replacement continues.
The Post has seen quite a lot of trouble recently with a shake up in leadership as publisher Katherine Weymouth canned executive editor Marcus Brauchi and replaced him with the former editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron.
The abrupt shake up caused The New York Times to launch a scathing take down of Weymouth’s leadership saying she was “overseeing the decline of one of journalism’s crown jewels.”
Thus far few of these paywalls have seen great financial success. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, for instance, has experienced a new online subscriber rate that only measures up to 5.7% of its print subscriber base, New York’s Newsday has seen a paltry 1,000 subscribers sign up and this week The Daily announced that it is shutting its iPad service down entirely despite that it was once touted as the best way to save the news industry.
The New York Times tried it once, dumped the idea, and is now trying it a second time. Though The Times’ latest attempt at walling off some content from free access, however, has thus far been considered a successful venture.
But ad revenues have fallen by half since 2005 and the newspaper industry has been bleeding cash and laying off staffers in every corner of the country. Finances have gotten so bad that many long-established, legacy newspapers have been forced to sell off their showplace headquarters buildings and move into cheaper digs.
Of course, most of these papers share a similar liberal point of view. As the Old Media establishment fades each day with revenues in freefall, one wonders why none of them have tried to just report the news honestly and see if that might help reverse their downward spiral?
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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