Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Extending the paywall

The Register is suggesting that The Daily Telegraph is thinking of emulating The Times and retreating behind a paywall.

There was some hint of this in a recent online reader survey, where the paper seemed most interested in views on payment for online content. But, in the manner of government "consultation", this now seems to have been an exercise in confirming a decision already taken.

Such a development, should it happen, is one to be welcomed. It will make for one less derivative source to track, and remove a temptation to go for easy copy, requiring us bloggers to rely more on original material. That can only be good.

Needless to say, I will miss a few commentators like AE-P, but not enough to overcome idea of paying for Louise Gray's output. And there is the rub. I have no rooted objection to paying for good quality content – but the idea of paying to be ill-informed is an anathema. To make online payment work, the newspapers need to up their games but, since they all seem to be devoid of a "listening mode", I don't see that happening.

The great danger though is that we end up with an even more fractured society. It will be split between the ill-informed – the diminishing band of people who read, and largely believe newspapers – and the rest. In many ways, though, it is better to be uninformed than ill-informed. The newspapers seem to be doing their best to make that happen.