Washington Post website reportedly considering paywall
The Washington Post will probably start charging online readers for access to newspaper articles in the middle of next year, a person familiar with the plans said.
Long reluctant to charge for online content, the newspaper is close to a decision to introduce digital subscriptions and charge online readers once they surpass a certain number of articles or multimedia features a month, the person said. Access to the home page and section fronts would not be limited.
The model — known as a metered paywall — would be similar to that used by the New York Times, which started charging for online content in March 2011 and now has nearly 600,000 digital subscribers. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have similar models.
Home subscribers to the print edition would have unfettered access to The Post's website and other digital products.
The news was reported Thursday on the Wall Street Journal's website, which also said that The Post would raise the price of the paper sold at newsstands. That price has increased from 25 cents to $1 over the past several years.
Post Co. executives have long believed that the newspaper needed to build a larger core audience of people who are frequent users of the website and therefore the most likely to subscribe. And they hoped that a large online audience would bring in more online advertising.
But online advertising stalled late last year and early this year. Moreover, the success of the New York Times, which added online subscribers without significant losses of casual Web readers or print subscribers, provided some encouragement.
In addition, Warren Buffett, a former longtime Post director and a confidant of Post chief executive Donald Graham, has bought most of Media General's local newspapers through his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, and said that he would introduce paywalls throughout the chain.
"Anyone who focuses on the newspaper business should be focusing on one company: Berkshire Hathaway," Graham said earlier this week at a media conference hosted by UBS. "Warren has bought more than 80 papers . . . and he's been waving his arms saying, 'I'm not done.'"
He added: "Warren's strategy is: put in a strict paywall and focus on local, local, local stuff." Graham said that The Post would keep its local focus, including political coverage, as it covers Washington "as a city and as the capital of the United States."
Graham has long been considered skeptical about the wisdom of introducing a paywall, according to company managers and executives.
When asked Monday at the conference about the possibility of introducing a paywall, Graham said: "We're going to continue to study every aspect" of such a move. He praised the New York Times for "what seems to be a very intelligent paywall." But he added that The Post's strength was its local audience and ads, and said he was concerned about losing national audience and advertising by charging online readers.
Asked by one investor analyst whether he thought the paper could improve profits by increasing revenue or cutting costs, Graham said, "We will absolutely be having to bring costs down." But he added that many advertisers remain willing to pay for the paper's unusually high penetration among households of the Washington area.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...