Delivering the 2010 Hugh Cudlipp Lecture today, Rusbridger said that universal charging for newspaper content on the internet would remove the industry from a digital revolution which is allowing news organisations to engage with their readers more than ever before.
Rusbridger described universal paywalls as “a hunch” and said that the newspaper industry would learn valuable lessons from trying different business models, including staying generally free while charging for specialist content or asking readers to pay on different platforms, such as mobile.
[…] Rusbridger pointed out that News Corp has frequently used the price of news to attack rivals. “Murdoch, who has in his time flirted with free models and who has ruthlessly cut the price of his papers to below cost in order to win audiences or drive out competition (‘reach before revenue’, as it wasn’t called back when he slashed the price of the Times to as low as 10p), this same Rupert Murdoch is being very vocal in asserting that the reader must pay a proper sum for content - whether in print or digitally,” he said.
[…] “It’s not a ‘digital trend’. It’s a trend about how people are expressing themselves, about how societies will choose to organise themselves, about a new democracy of ideas and information, about changing notions of authority, about the releasing of individual creativity, about resisting the people who want to close down free speech.
[…] “If you erect a universal pay wall around your content then it follows you are turning away from a world of openly shared content. Again, there may be sound business reasons for doing this, but editorially it is about the most fundamental statement anyone could make about how newspapers see themselves in relation to the newly-shaped world.”
[…] “Growth isn’t being bought by tricks or by setting chain-gangs of reporters early in the morning to rewrite stories about Lady Gaga or Katie Price. In that same period last year, our biggest growth areas were environment (up 137%), technology (up 125%) and art and design (up 84%).
He noted that roughly a third of the Guardian’s 37 million unique users came from North America - at a total marketing spend over 10 years of only $34,000 (£20,942). He contrasted the influence of UK papers in the US with that of 50 years ago, when the Manchester Guardian’s total foreign sale was 650.
The Guardian: “Guardian editor hits back at paywalls”.