This is the first post on the new website and blog, Paywall Watch. Here, I will collect information about subscription models on news websites, map the developments, and document the transition from free to fee. The website concentrates on generalist news websites (since this is where the biggest institutional changes are currently taking place) but will probably also include more niche-oriented news websites down the line.
The inspiration for this website was the online work conducted by Dr. Piet Bakker at his blogs ‘Newspaper Innovation‘ and ‘Newspaper Statistics‘. On those sites, he continuously, meticulously, and thoroughly maps developments and statistics related to two quite specific areas – free dailies and newspaper readership, respectively.
The ambition of Paywall Watch is to do the same, only with subscription models on news websites. This is an ambitious task, and I guess I’ll constantly be three steps behind the actual developments in the industry. But I’ll do my best to keep up, focusing on the geographical contexts I know best and work with in my research, namely the Danish one.
Much discussion is going on about whether digital subscription is good or bad for the news business and for democracy. This website will not be taking sides – but it’ll hopefully contribute to the discussion being more informed in the future.
I hope I’ll have the time and resources to carry this project through. Even more, I hope you readers will find this website a valuable resource and worth your time.
(A short post-scriptum: I’m actually not very fond of the particular term ‘paywall’ because of the negative connotations it carries; I much prefer the more neutral ‘digital subscription model’. That, however, is somewhat more clumsy, and ‘Digital Subscription Model Watch’ just didn’t have the same catchy character as the title of this website as did ‘Paywall Watch’.)