I deliberately haven’t commented on the Times’ paywall numbers (readership down 90 per cent) which were issued earlier this week as I think it is important that this experiment is given a fair shout without too much sniping from the sidelines, especially from a PR man!
However, I can’t help but comment on an interesting little aside from journalist Heather Brooke on her website in which she defends her decision to go and work for the Times behind their paywall. She had this to say on her blog: “I actually believe journalism must improve if the Times is asking people to pay for it, as readers are not going to pay for inaccurate rumour or propaganda. They can get that anywhere – for free.”
If what Brooke is saying is that paywalls will mean an end to ‘churnalism’ (the running of news stories cribbed from other sources without any fact checking or further information being provided), more original content, more investigative reporting, better and more incisive comment, then she could be onto something.
Of course, the issue is that all of the above has a cost attributed, mainly in the form of actually having more journalists, which destroys margins. After a decade of ever-shrinking editorial departments this would be a considerable volte face for the industry and most importantly its proprietors.