Paper paywalls now a global phenomenon

March 20, 2012

Listen to Ken Doctor on paywalls

New York Times’ readers will soon find themselves facing a taller paywall. Social media was abuzz with the news Tuesday that come April, the publisher will halve the number of “free” reads for non-subscribers—from 20 to 10 articles per month. The Times’ tweak is the latest in a series of stories about newspapers, including some in Chicago, trying to implement and fine-tune a paywall model. But is it working for news producers—and consumers?

Many Chicagoans are waiting for the other paywall shoe to drop—the Sun-Times went behind a wall in December, the Daily Herald a few months before that—many assume it's only a matter of time before the Chicago Tribune, which seems to be the last bastion of free content in these parts, fortifies.

Ken Doctor analyzes the media industry for Outsell, a global research and advisory firm. He is also the author of Newsonomics: Twelve Laws That Will Shape the News We Get. Doctor continues the book’s narrative, tracking trends, at newsonomics.com.

Doctor called into The Afternoon Shift from Madrid, Spain. He’s been in Europe the last two weeks speaking with various members of the news industry. He he told host Steve Edwards that the paywall phenomenon is not just a sign of the Times, it's gone global.