There is a huge debate going on the future of newspapers. A lot of people have stopped buying newspapers in print (that includes me) and are satisfied with reading it online. Apart from a few newspapers like the Wall Street Journal which have a paywall, others offer unlimited access. These papers support their operations with advertising, but that revenue is not enough to maintain the vast number of bureaus and the quality of content that they offer. Some like the New York Times have finally succumbed and are implementing a paywall for heavy users. I doubt the success of paywalls, because paying for content on web will break the link culture of the web. You can no longer be sure that your reader has access to New York Times and that will encourage people to link to free sites rather than New York Times. This will result in drastic reduction of non-regular visitors to these sites and will also reduce the exposure of the website.
This is the reason why I think Guardian’s approach is much better. They have made an Open API which allows people to :
Pull Headlines and excerpts for free.
Allow people to pull in Guardian Content along with Guardian advertising and share revenue
Guardian along with preferred partners will build ‘rich experiences’ inside Guardian and on other websites.
I am interested in the first two. The first happens right now - with people linking to content.
The 2nd method is innovative. It gives Guardian a much better reach and a wider base to monetize their content. I hope more media organizations try this approach rather than following the easy but restrictive approach of having paywalls.
I do believe that we can have a successful model of purchasing newspapers on tablets. Apple did this with music, and they with Amazon and Google will try to replicate the ITunes business model on tablets and smartphones.
Guardian’s Developer Advocate Chris Thorpe explains the reasoning behind Guardian’s approach in the following video.