Apologies for the paywall here but it’s something we’re coming up against more frequently. In a nutshell, The Guardian is looking at testing a paywall in its news app for a sample of regular users as it figures out the best pricing approach for requiring a subscription to access the app. The website will remain open as part of its commitment to free-access journalism.
It’s a dramatic step-change for a publisher who is world-renowned for reader revenue success despite totally open content. I can understand the logic from an internal perspective. News apps are increasingly seen as a vital way of engaging committed readers (as opposed to converting new ones). Chances are, if someone uses the app a lot, they’ll be willing to cough up a bit for it. The price is on the experience, not the journalism.
The price points being tested will be of particular interest. Will this be closer to the FT Edit’s 99p/month subscription, or will they go straight for the £4.99 or even £9.99 ‘Netflix’ price? Your thoughts on this move are welcome as always – just reply to this email.
Four North American participants from a recent Google News Initiative Startups Lab featured in a special podcast from us in Jan talking about what business models they had chosen to use. Given the public service nature of local news, all had chosen to make the content freely accessible. Instead, they had turned to memberships, contributions, events, advertising, and even merchandise in order to forge a path to sustainability. I wrote about their choice of business models for WNIP.
Forbes has managed to make an even madder set of NFTs than Playboy’s ‘Rabbitars’. The business publisher’s first collection of NFTs are 100 fictional billionaire investors with theoretical portfolios and virtual net worths based on real-time New York Stock Exchange pricing. The virtual billionaires come with distinct hobbies and accessories apparently. I need a lie-down and a strong (real) drink.
Fighting free press bans in Russia with newsletters, Telegram, and YouTube. When gatekeepers are a problem
Since Russia invaded Ukraine and the Kremlin managed to suspend the last bastions of free press in the country, many Russian journalists have had to flee. The next step for many of them was to rethink the way they make and distribute their journalism. David Tvrdon looks at what Russian journalists are doing on Substack, Telegram and YouTube, and how language barriers on platforms are proving problematic.
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