The Content Paywall Ostriches

To dismiss the whole of the free-to-air reporting, analysis and
news-gathering being done on blogs and the myriad forms of social media
that exist in that one paragraph is to duck the crucial question of
“what do you offer that’s so much more compelling than the work done on
free content”. Worse than that, it shows a worrying ignorance of the
material and work that is being done by the amateur and the
entrepreneurial professional in the field of online journalism.
Research is meant to be a crucial part of journalism, and it had better
be part of any business plan. There’s no research here, just prejudice
and, I suspect, fear.

He also makes the normal spurious pleas to democratic nobility –
through some sort of reporting elite, ironically – that are trotted out
again and again. And I think to myself “I’ve seem more genuine holding
of local politicians to account by local bloggers in south-east London than I have by the local newspaper“.

Even Johnston Press admits it’s just testing the water here. It’s going to take more than a paywall to save us from the shifts in the information ecology around us.

Update: A few minutes after I posted, I saw this. May I suggest that it’s just further evidence of the disconnect between the perceived value of the local press and the often tawdry reality?

  • Hi Adam – thanks for the kind words.

    If you’re talking about south-east London bloggers holding politicians to account, you might be thinking of Adam Bienkov rather than Boris Watch, though, since the latter’s very much a west Londoner 🙂

    Jason’s encounter with the SLP is a shocker – but in my experience on the journalists’ side of the fence, not that surprising, sadly.

    There was also an incident recently where footage of a burst water main shot by london-se1.co.uk was used on BBC London News… and credited as “courtesy of YouTube”.

    There’s absolutely no excuse for that kind of thing any more.

  • Jon Jermey

    The exposure of the Climategate scandal is a wonderful example of the blogosphere unearthing and exposing a scandal that the mainstream press were all too eager to sweep under the carpet.

  • You’re quite right about Adam – that comes of doing my linking too quickly because I want to go home and snuggle up to a bottle of red wine… 🙂

  • So “paywall” is the new word for toll booth?

    It’s as if people who ran stagecoach services got all flustered by these “cars” and “highways” and insisted on toll booths everywhere or “it’ll never work” despite having worked quite well for a decade or more already.

    Your business model is failing, therefore I must change mine? Oh, and Mr. Murdoch would like the entire internet to get off his lawn.


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