My Newspaper Paywall Plan for Dean Singleton

Today the Denver Post sent its minions to my local grocery store, and they hooked me into a discussion by offering a drawing. This reminded me that“Denver-based MediaNews Group announced… that it has launched an online subscription paywall at 23 of its newspapers in five states but not in Colorado.” I figure we’re next.

So if a paywall is going to happen, I’d like it to happen the right way. (And I wrote about this back in 2009.)

Obviously a monthly subscription is the most standard model. The problem with this is that many readers — especially those who live elsewhere — may want to read an article only occasionally. This is especially true for a big paper like the Denver Post. So a subscription-based paywall should be only part of the approach.

Ideally newspapers will offer two additional ways to read an article online: pay per view, or watch an advertisement.

Here’s how I envision the pay-per-view model. The paper reveals the first bit of an article, then offers the option to read the rest by clicking a pay button (say, for anywhere from ten cents to a buck, depending on the sort of article). I purchase credits through the system (say, $30 at a time), log in, then spend my credits however I want (and they never expire). I have no idea how to work the technical side of this, but surely it’s possible. Indeed, a robust system could allow other players (including bloggers) to join the same system (for a percentage).

The third option is to view a video (say, 15 seconds) advertising a specific product as “payment” for reading the article.

Readers get the content they want, they have flexible payment options, and journalists earn a living. Does that not make everyone happy?