To paywall or not to paywall? That is the question

Rob Lynam

The Sun and The Times' paywall models can provide inspiration for those who want to attract subscribers for newspaper digital content

A question that polarises old newshounds and digital evangelists is whether the future viability of the newspaper business is better served online from behind a paywall or with content made freely available. The debate is partly about how in a world of fragmented media we keep newspapers relevant; it is also part philosophical, about whether journalism is viewed as a democratic necessity or a commodity; finally it is also pragmatic, about how to make journalism pay.

Among the paywall fraternity, The New York Times metered paywall is hailed as the model to be emulated. Allowing readers 10 page views per month on any device, it has created a model that is porous enough to generate 46 million global unique visitors each month, of whom they've been able to convince 1.5% heavy users to subscribe.