PAY NOW OR PAY LATER?

There is a lot of grousing in Madison about the new paywall proposed for Madison.com, the website for the Wisconsin State Journal and the Capital Times. I gently send the complaints to my pals who still work in the newsrooms.

Ellen Foley, FMG president

News operations are re-evaluating their business models as the “Digital First” mantra finally takes hold. We began debating this in the late 1990s and we were in full battle mode by the time I got to the Philly Daily News. In fact, we moved the web staff for Philly.com to its own building to let it grow without the yammering from the print side.

I am a fan of the New York Times digital model in which you get many story views if you pay for the print subscription. I’m not sure how businesses will deal with paying $4.95 a month per user in an office that already gets the print sub, as the initial WSJ plan states.

A group of business leaders at a local eatery advised me that they will send their workers to the TV websites. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that soon the TV websites will have paywalls too.

Gannett, the 800-pound gorilla in the media world, have done great work policing its business model. I’ve recently been reading about my own business model tweaks and recommend “Reinventing Your Business Model” in the Harvard Business Review, December 2008.

Here’s Gannett’s latest success story.┬áMost journos aren’t fans of the stern moves by Gannett’s steely culture. However, it has been a leader and the fact that its paywalls are succeeding is a harbinger of things to come.