The Paywall Revolution

Prolific blogger and gay Catholic conservative (not to blatantly reduce him to a narrow cultural stereotype or anything) Andrew Sullivan made a splash today when he announced that his popular blog will be once again striking out on its own, leaving its current home on Newsweek-owned Daily Beast website.

From the NPR story on the move:

Saying that [Sullivan] and his team want “to help build a new media environment that is not solely about advertising or profit above everything, but that is dedicated first to content and quality…”

He’ll be charging readers $20/year for full access to the site, although the paywall will be on the porous side—a la The New York Times’ recent paywall implementation. As Nieman Lab reported back in March 2011, when the Times’ paywall first launched:

Now, the Times paywall is, to a certain extent, defined by its leakiness. The various holes — external links from social media and search biggest among them — are no accident; they’re the result of some (correct, I say) thinking about hitting the right balance between fly-by and dedicated readers, between those who come in the front door and others who arrive from the side.

I think it’s more than just catering to certain audiences, although that’s certainly a practical concern. I think this is an extremely positive development, part of a larger movement back to the idea that readers should be an important part of journalism’s revenue model. It’s getting people in the mindset that good content is worth something, and is worth coughing up a little dough for every once in awhile.

So far, at least for Sullivan, it seems like it’s working.

And don’t worry, dear reader, this blog is just a hobby and I’ll never shut out my five readers with a paywall.