Shhhh – Don’t tell Newspapers that paywalls don’t work


malcomx newspapers

Newspaper paywalls not paying off … yet
Newspaper paywalls are less successful than newspapers are suggesting, and don’t offer a viable business model in the short term according to an AUT media researcher.

Merja Myllylahti has researched paywalls (which require readers to pay for online news content) in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland, and will have her research published in Digital Journalism next year.

New paywall initiatives for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald are expected to be announced by Fairfax Media at its investor day on 6 June, prompting Myllylahti to sound a note of caution about how successful they really are.

“Measuring paywall success is difficult because newspapers are less than open about their digital subscription numbers and revenues,” says Myllylahti. “As well as looking at digital subscription numbers it’s also important to look at how much paywalls contribute to the bottom line.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don’t tell Newspapers that paywalls don’t work, we want them all behind paywalls. The sooner NZ newspapers erect paywalls, the better informed the population will be.

Personally I would love all of Al Nisbet’s cartoons to remain behind a paywall.

Newspapers have lied to their advertisers for years over how many people actually see their adverts. These grossly inflated readership numbers are as much a scam as radio listenership numbers. With the advent of online, advertisers can now know with a vicious accuracy exactly how many people have seen their advert and of course are demanding they pay to that accuracy rather than some bloated figure the Newspaper pulls out of its arse to justify the cost of the advert.

TDB Recommends

Add to this sudden revelation of how false their plumped up readership numbers are with the groaning overhead costs of running printers and a distribution network that have all been replaced by the online environment and newspapers with all their vested corporate interests are the echo of a dinosaur that doesn’t realize that it’s extinct yet.

Good, let’s hurry that up with paywalls. What the corporate media in their desperate scramble to monetize online content don’t see or understand is that paywall rob Newspapers ultimately of the only real power they have – the power to influence the public. The elites need certain myths propagated for it to control the masses, those myths have to be repeated over and over and over again to overcome the counter reality most people experience every day, remove that element of propaganda from the media landscape and people will start thinking for themselves.

The other benefactor of paywalls will be blogs. As the only free news online in a paywall world, blogs can buy the subscription for the people and still make reference to the news stories without other people needing to subscribe.

What must keep the Newspaper bosses up late at night is the next generation who are totally accepting of going online for their news sources rather than buy a Newspaper. The news audience of tomorrow is already here and the Newspapers can’t seem to understand it.

Paywalls would help limit the negative agendas most newspapers espouse while empowering the blogs, the current growls of the Newspapers are the same ones heard from dinosaurs trapped in tar pits slowly sinking beneath the surface.

Dear Newspaper industry – hurry up with your paywalls so you can become as irrelevant as the gated echo chamber community of the NBR.



  1. Not agreeing or disagreeing but a few points:

    Statistics for newspaper readership numbers come from AC Neilson who are paid by the newspaper industry to do independent surveys with the same information supplied to both Fairfax and APN. Radio has its own independent surveys carried out by Just Radio.

    Newspapers do need to find a way to pay for providing news one way or another but free website news, while attracting readers probably isn’t particularly effect for gathering revenue. There is also the new issue that with smart phones and iPads online advertising doesn’t work because of the smaller viewing window which means this form of advertising is in danger of being lost anyway.

    A good thing about paywalls is that if they discourage people from accessing news online, they will have to buy newspapers again (hopefully) which tend to take a more balanced approach to news presentation.

  2. I can’t imagine pay-walls being all that successful considering how tight we Kiwis can be. Perhaps there’ll be as much traffic as a Scottish pay-toilet.

    If pay-walls are introduced, will they place further attention on eliminating the now frequent typos that can be easily found?

    • I think the tight Scotsman gags are a bit old hat these days. They’ve pretty much disappeared into history along with The Thick Mick, The Thieving Taffy and The Snobby/whinging/lying/good for nothing Pom.

      If only the Scots were as thrifty as their Harry Lauder image then maybe they wouldn’t be drowning in a sea of private debt. In reality, nations like the Germans and Japanese are a far more tight fisted bunch and far less likely to flush their precious bawbees doon the cludgie.

Comments are closed.