On walkabout in life and technology

Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users

Clay Shirky exposes the story behind Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users.

As a heavy consumer of news, my biggest problem is finding good old-fashioned journalism in a world of spin, hype, agendas, placements and sponsored content. I worry that we’re entering a world where the truth becomes what other people have paid for me to read because journalists have no other way to finance an honest service.

This isn’t a problem with general-interest paywalls — it is the problem, widely understood before the turn of the century, and one to which there has never been a convincing answer. The easy part of treating digital news as a product is getting money from 2% of your audience. The hard part is losing 98% of your advertising base.

So far, the only news service I feel I can trust is BBC, because it is paid for out of the TV license money in the UK and remains the only truly independent source of real journalism on the planet.

Or maybe we’re already there yet.