The economics of online journalism say that the more page views, the better, which many say can endanger important news that may be overlooked because it won't drive traffic. But as online ad revenues aren't adding up fast enough for many newspapers around the globe and paywalls and premium content offerings continue to go up, from the Nikkei in Japan to Le Monde in France, could the tide be turning in favour of this type of reporting?
"The management shouldn't be following but trying to anticipate the changing economics of online journalism," writes Silicon Valley Watcher blogger Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times journalist. "The dirty little secret of journalism's focus on page views is that the value of each page view is decreasing, because the value of online advertising is decreasing. This means it's a strategy that will likely lead to failure. Media organizations need to adopt a multi-revenue business model, or what I call a Heinz 57 model."
So if newspapers create paid content offerings, whether they're behind complete paywalls, a freemium model or partial paywall, quality journalism may win the day at traditional news outlets.
The most recent paid content launches was yesterday, when News International's thetimes.co.uk and thesundaytimes.co.uk relaunched as separate, paid sites. Readers have been offered a free preview for a month, and then the sites will go behind a paywall in June.
"Most people go to the Times for news, business and sport from a Monday afternoon, so what should the Sunday Times offer [online] Monday afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday?" Tristan Davies, the Sunday Times executive editor, told MediaGuardian. "We are not trying to be a headlines, list-driven website, the traditional newspaper style."