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Tech Bytes - Hitting the paywalls

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Jun 14th, 2013
Posted in All Columnists

The days of hopping on a computer and having open access to literally anything you may be searching for may be dwindling. Now such access is coming with a price tag. Credible sources like widely read newspapers, popular magazines, online tabloids, and other network news sources are trying to make some extra cash through online paywalls.

Never did printer Ben Day, who launched the New York Sun in 1833 when he was 22 years old, suspect that news content would be available through online networks to such massive audiences. Instead, he worked tirelessly creating the Sun, a paper sold for a penny per copy.

Many newspapers are putting up paywalls on their sites. The New York Times has had one since early 2011, and now the more recent is The Washington Post, which announced that its paywall will launch on Wednesday, June 12. This is due to a reported 85-percent drop in net-revenues from the first quarter of 2013.

From the year 2011, the top company sites that earned the most in news revenues included Yahoo News, CNN, MSNBC, AOL, and the New York Times, earning anywhere from $38 million to $86 million each.

With a typical paywall, readers have the ability to access a limited amount of stories, videos or other content that they may view for free, typically within a given month. After you’ve reached your quota, you’re going to have to pull out the credit card and pay by the story or subscribe to an online edition.

Paywalls aren’t just being utilized by the large-name papers, however. Many local and regional newspapers make use of them as well. Newspapers have been around for a very long time, and they have faced their challenges. They have hit their fair share of rough patches including many newspaper layoffs. Because of this, publishers have no choice but to get innovative and try to look for better ways to generate revenues.

It is uncertain whether paywalls will be sticking around for the rest of the existence of newspaper and magazine publications. As the move towards completely-digital content continues, it may be that publishers generate enough in online advertisement revenue that paywalls are knocked down.

Readers should know that access to news content on the Fillmore County Journal and Olmsted County Journal websites is unlimited and completely free for your enjoyment.

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