frontlineclub Recently, the Frontline Club held a roundtable discussing the issue of newspapers and paywalls. Present, among others, were representatives from the Financial Times, which recently instituted a paywall, and Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London, which will be doing so soon.

British journalist and blogger Adam Tinworth was present, and writes of a considerable disconnect between the newspaper representatives and the rest of the audience. When the audience brought up social sharing, the paper reps talked about “being on as many platforms as possible”.

The message seemed to be clear – the majority of the audience, and the remaining two panelists, thought that the social web was important, the national newspaper representative did not.

William Owen of the “Made by Many” blog observes and expounds upon three fallacies that still govern much newspaper thinking:

  1. that the internet is free because of a mix of habit and a spurious moral right, and that if you can change habits and challenge morality we’ll go back to paying for content.
  2. that a newspaper’s competition is other newspapers.
  3. that nothing else changes, content is still just the end product of the publishing process.

And Patrick Smith posts a writeup and video of the event on the website for the Frontline Club itself. Most tellingly, he notes:

I recommend checking our video from about 1 hour 10 minutes to get a feeling of just how hostile our audience was to the paywall plans. Perhaps it’s not the most representative focus group, but if this was a flavour of what people think, the plan could have a rocky road ahead.

It is going to be interesting to see how these paywalls fare. Are the newspapers out of touch, or have we just not recognized their “genius”? We’re about to find out.


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