According to holdthefrontpage.co.uk, Johnston Press — owner of the Scotsman and Yorkshire Post in the UK — intends to pilot a pay-wall for a small number of its local titles as early as next week.
If that’s the case, then this is one experiment whose outcome will be eagerly anticipated by many media industry watchers.
Media planners, ad agencies and advertisers — in particular — will no doubt watch with baited breath to see if consumers will cough up for content that, until now, had been freely available online or — even more traditionally — from the news-stand, local newsagent or delivered through the door.
At stake is the sustainability of the revenue model upon which the current editorial process of news organisations depend. So reporters and writers will be just as concerned to see if the prognosis is good; there are a lot of livelihoods at stake if it transpires that a pay-wall just doesn’t cut it as a means of generating revenue and sustaining the traditional news-gathering process.
There’s another aspect to this which I also find interesting, and that’s whether or not consumer response to a pay-wall to gain access to localised content can be truly indicative of the likely success of pay-wall access to national content?
I tend to lean towards the school of thought which suggests that localism is likely to enjoy a resurgence as people are drawn to content that is most closely related to their personal circumstances — particularly geography. The only thing is, this may be a resurgence built around a network of contributors beyond the realm of professional journalists.
No matter what, there’s really only one why to find out isn’t there?