CASE STUDY: Rupert Murdoch’s Paywall

Who is Rupert Murdoch?

According to NNBD

AKA Keith Rupert Murdoch
Born: 11-Mar-1931
Birthplace: Melbourne, Australia
Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business
Nationality: United States
Executive summary:
Founder and CEO of News Corp


Born in Australia, raised in England, now an American citizen, Rupert Murdoch is the founder of News Corporation, named for his first newspaper, Australia’s Adelaide News. With subsequent expansion to Europe and America, Murdoch’s News Corp is the parent company of an interlocking media empire that includes television, movies, cable networks, book publishing, satellite TV, magazines and newspapers operating in the United States, Australia, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific Basin. Beyond his hundreds of newspapers, Murdoch’s best known brands include 20th Century Fox, Fox Television, DirecTV, Harper Collins, and MySpace.

What is a paywall?

A paywall is a system that prevents Internet users from accessing webpage content (most notably news content and scholarly publications) without a paid subscription. There are both “hard” and “soft” paywalls in use. “Hard” paywalls allow minimal to no access to content without subscription, while “soft” paywalls allow more flexibility in what users can view without subscribing, such as selective free content and/or a limited number of articles per month.

How paywalls came into being?
According to Wikipedia

In response to print media’s decline and the increasing influence of online journalism during 2000s, Murdoch proclaimed his support of the micropayments model for obtaining revenue from on-line news, although this has been criticized by some. There is a correlation between Paywall projects; they all look like an attractive business opportunity, although there were similarities of Paywall not working.

Can paywalls work?

Newspapers have been implementing paywalls on their websites to increase their revenue, which has been diminishing due to a decline in print subscriptions and advertising revenue.

Some implementations of paywalls proved unsuccessful, and have been removed. Experts who are sceptical of the paywall model include Arianna Huffington, who declared “the paywall is history” in a 2009 article in The Guardian. In 2010, Jimmy Wales (of Wikipedia fame) reportedly called The Times’ paywall “a foolish experiment.” One major concern was with content so widely available, potential subscribers would turn to free sources for their news. The adverse effects of earlier implementations included decline in traffic and poor search engine optimization.
Paywalls have become controversial, with partisans arguing over the effectiveness of paywalls in generating revenue and their effect on media in general. Critics of paywalls include many businessmen, academics such as media professor Jay Rosen, and journalists such as Howard Owens and media analyst Matthew Ingram of GigaOm. Those who see potential in paywalls include investor Warren Buffett, former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Some have changed their opinions of paywalls.

Felix Salmon of Reuters was initially an outspoken skeptic of paywalls, but recently expressed the opinion that they could be effective. Renowned NYU media theorist, Clay Shirky, was initially a skeptic of paywalls, but in May 2012, wrote, “[Newspapers] should turn to their most loyal readers for income, via a digital subscription service of the sort the [New York Times]” Paywalls are rapidly changing journalism, with an impact on its practice and business model, and on freedom of information on the Internet, that is yet unclear.


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