Over one month ago, it was reported that the Hearst Corporation was considering a paywall for SFGate and the associated Chronicle content. With rumors of pricing around $10 per month, that would potentially be a huge revenue stream for the ailing paper. It was expected that the paywall would be active by the end of April.
The whole paywall concept to me just seems odd. The newspaper industry has put themselves in this position by giving away content for years, and their current paywall solution seems counterintuitive. The way to revive the industry would be to innovate and reinvent how you do business, through growth and driving new traffic to your product.
Instead, a paywall would to do the opposite. Already faced with dropping subscription numbers, increasing costs, and less profits, why make it harder to access material? Over the past year or so, we have seen SFGate team up with the likes of Bleacher Report and other sourced content sites in efforts to lower costs. They have essentially traded expense for quality content. Not to say that there cannot be quality in those mediums, there can be. However the medium is diluted. If you’ve looked at the front page of SFGate recently, it is the perfect example quantity over quality.
I would guess that syndicated and sourced content would have to be excluded from the paywall – if not done away with completely.
But my question is this, would we, as consumers, be worse off without the Chronicle content? Their stable of journalists seems to dwindle by the day and now their proposed solution is to reduce access to that content even further.