By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

For the Globe, a hybrid paid-content model

As you may have heard, the Boston Globe today finally made its long-anticipated announcement on placing some of its online content behind a paywall. I think publisher Chris Mayer’s decision to offer a free site and a paid is interesting. I’ve got some questions. I’ve got concerns.

I’ll have more to say tomorrow. Meanwhile, Ralph Ranalli at and Boston Phoenix editor Carly Carioli have some worthwhile thoughts.

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  1. Laurence Kranich

    Carly Carioli is certainly the prophet of doom for On the other hand, I think this gives the Globe a lot of wiggle room to return to business as usual when they end up with at most a few thousand more subscribers.

    How many people pay for electronic editions right now? According to a report, it is 5,410 daily and 3,298 Sunday as of March 2010. How is going to be that much better than Globe Reader? Yes, it’ll be more exclusive, since presumably you won’t be able to read Shaughnessy and Jacoby for free anymore. Do they really think they’ll do better than double their paying online readership this way? I don’t.

    Eventually more and more content will be declared “breaking news” and “way too important to hide behind the paywall.” Then will resume business as almost usual.

  2. Andy Koppel

    Perhaps the Globe’s decision is business suicide. Perhaps not. However, the current model was leading in that direction anyhow.

    As unpopular as this position may be, I salute what the Globe and the Times are doing in 2011, even while recognizing the risks. News may be interchangeable at its most basic, factual level, but journalism is not, at least in my view.

    No one publishes the quantity and quality of serious journalism produced by the Times. And while that’s my paper of choice, I will subscribe to the Globe on-line edition for the local component.

    Somehow I suspect that the Times will survive — and perhaps thrive — in their new model. I am less convinced about the future of the Globe, but heartily endorse the notion that their on-line content should not be free. These papers are not aggregators or rehashers of wire service stories. They create original journalism and incur expenses in doing so.

    I understand all the arguments against this position. I also understand how the papers have screwed up on-line implementation from the beginning, which is what makes the Globe’s decision so unacceptable to so many.

    BTW, there is a precedent of sorts in this business. When newspapers first converted to computer technology, they paid for hardware, but not software support. As the industry evolved, hardware ceased being proprietary and became a commodity item, leading to a dramatic reduction in hardware support revenues.

    Consequently, the technology vendors were compelled to reassess their software support model. In that case, the newspapers were — ironically — the resisting party. However, over time, they came around, and paid software support has become the industry standard.

  3. peter sullivan

    I wonder how much I would have to pay the Boston Globe to not have that little Netflix window pop up every time I click on any portion of their site??

  4. BP Myers

    Perhaps it’s just a bad hyperlink, however when I clicked to read Carly Carioli’s thoughts, I was met with a sign-in screen.

    And so I did what most folks will do when these paywalls go up. I moved on.

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