When entertainment industry trade Variety decided to put its online content behind a pay wall earlier this month, it promised options for how users would go about paying. (Random selection being one of the more out there ideas we’ve heard for pay walls, but hey, everyone is trying something new.)
Other Web sites like those belonging to The Financial Times have embarked on a plan that would eventually allow users to purchase individual articles for a small fee, much like buying a song from iTunes for 99 cents instead of the whole album for $10.
Media analysts don’t necessarily agree that bringing down the price of content (even if it costs customers more money in the long run) will make potential readers take out their wallets. Jay Rosen New York University journalism professor, Bryan Keefer of The Daily Beast and Josh Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab both see the chink in pay walls’ armor as being that the majority of people just won’t pay for content in its current state, period. (Rosen actually predicted the paradoxical idea of paid-for “exclusivity” appealing to link-obsessed readers in a 2005 article for The Huffington Post.) So the people already paying for subscriptions will continue to pay, and the rest won’t be typing in their credit card information, no matter how small the fee is.