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How free service journalism and paywalls can coexist

Poynter – “Only a few news organizations need to play at the extremes. Your paywall can be porous and your service journalism can establish an elite community. Journalism is often filled with competing interests. The “business side” versus the “editorial side” is a classic example. Another is the chase for eyeballs via clickbait or the quality pursuit of awards. There are many forces in our industry that have an equal and opposing force and shades of gray in between. A pivotal dichotomy in the years to come is the tension between charging an audience for access to content and journalism in service of a community. After the great “pivot to video” debacle of the mid-2010s, monetizing readers directly through subscriptions, events, and merchandise has been a growing trend. We see this trend in organizations like The New York Times, which now boasts over 8 million subscribers, and individuals who are monetizing their audiences with paywalled newsletters, text channels, or membership communities. This trend has even hit the major platforms, with Twitter and Instagram slowly releasing tools that would allow content creators to monetize their audience directly and offer members-only perks. On the other side of this equation, however, is the threat that the greater public is being left behind. In fact, some predict we will see an outright questioning of paywalls. Playing “hide-the-ball” with information can leave a bad taste in the mouth of journalists who still see their job as more than just a paycheck, but in service of a higher mission…”

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