There has been much talk about the survival of the traditional media in the online era. Magazines have avoided much of the focus as it relates to the transition to their online presence. Why? It’s likely because magazines are not a daily publication that has its weaknesses exposed by the more “real time” acquisition of information that the social web and search engines (to an extent) can provide.
Recently though there has been fallout in the magazine industry, as the venerable Conde Nast dropped some major publications. Along those lines major papers in the UK have introduced their version of having to pay for content. The latest and probably most recognized name to join the ‘pay-wall’ fray is The Eonomist. The Guardian reports
The Economist is restricting the number of articles that online readers can view for free, the latest sign that publishers are rethinking their attitude to web content.
Only articles from the last 90 days will be available to general readers, rather than 12 months under the current system. From 13 October, anything more than 90 days old will be put behind a pay wall and thus be available to subscribers only.
In another change, only subscribers will be able to look at the “This week’s print edition” feature that allows online readers to browse the current edition of the magazine as it appears on the page.
Ben Edwards, the publisher of The Economist’s online presence is unapologetic in saying
“We consider this to be a premium reading experience and plan to develop the online edition of our magazine for our most loyal and engaged readers: subscribers.”
While I am not a reader of the magazine (it would cut into my time with other important media outlets like ESPN.com) it seems like this may be a little over the top. Of course, the readership of this magazine is not so concerned about price and may actually welcome the exclusivity of the online ‘club’ mentality.
Would this go over with the People Magazine crowd? Will this technique bleed over into mass-market publications and will the general public, who is already hurting economically and turning to the Internet for an escape, pay to play? Let’s hear your take on whether this is a widely adoptable technique or a play for very specific offerings.