Recently I reported for the Nieman Journalism Lab that The Boston Globe was tightening up on social sharing and on how much Globe content it offers on its free Boston.com site. Today Andrew Beaujon of Poynter.org interviews Globe editor Brian McGrory, who tells him that free Globe articles will increasingly become a thing of the past.
“We’re going to start removing our in-depth Globe journalism from Boston.com, which is not a small move,” McGrory says.
The new editor describes his goal as “untangling” the paid BostonGlobe.com and the free Boston.com sites, telling Beaujon that Boston.com will feature “more social media, more community bloggers, hopefully edgier content.” Breaking news will continue to run on Boston.com, but news stories will likely be no longer than 150 words.
When Globe publisher Christopher Mayer announced in the fall of 2010 that the paper would pursue paid digital subscriptions, McGrory, then a columnist, was one of its most enthusiastic proponents (scroll down past my Q&A with Mayer).
(And by the way, we’re now up to 150 words.)
The Globe has to pay the bills, of course. I just hope McGrory and company understand how many free alternatives are out there. Even if they’re not as good as the Globe, they may prove to be good enough for those determined not to pay. An overly restrictive paywall could also trigger new competition.
I’ll make one suggestion that might help McGrory accomplish his goals while at the same time ensuring that the Globe remains part of the online conversation. The Globe’s corporate big brother, The New York Times, allows people access to 10 stories a month before the paywall kicks in.
That seems reasonable, given that anyone who wants to read the Globe regularly is going to click at least 10 times a day. I hope the Globe considers it.