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Techniques, Machines & The Different Modes Of Publishing

The Affects On Paywalls On Digital Publishing And What It Could Mean For My Own Publishing

I think I’m going to start charging people to read this blog. This may only be my second post, but if I’m going to keep churning out some more posts over the next few months, I might as well make a profit from it, right?  Aren’t paywalls the new digital trend? There’s already several newspaper websites  that have already begun, or are beginning, to hide their journalistic content behind paywalls, seeing as print news is supposedly going to die out.  This is definitely the way to go.

Or is it?

The nature of the internet is to search for, and share information, and publish content that can be accessed by either a limited audience (which is determined by international copyright laws and/or the privacy settings of the new-medium with which it is published, e.g. Youtube, social networking sites),  or, anyone and everyone (e.g websites, blogs, etc). So how does a paywall enhance sharing?

Editor-in-chief of The Guardian Newspaper Alan Rusbridger, speaking on the topic of news-website paywalls says that :

If you erect a universal pay wall around your content then it follows you are turning away from a world of openly shared content” –  (Busfield 2010)

With online news-websites allowing readers from around the world to access journalistic content, enhanced with photos, videos, links and other multimedia, editors and owners of newspapers are reaching audiences beyond the usual demographic and geographic limitations of print circulation. So how would a paywall help?

Let’s bring this idea back to me. If I was to develop a paywall for this blog, would I really be letting the nature of the internet run its course? Am I running against the norms of online and digital publishing? What about other forms of publishing such as social media. Ironically, privacy is a persistent issue in a social networking site (SNS) culture that prides itself on “voluntary sharing and exchange of information for the purpose of connectivity” (Ibrahim 2008, Nardi 2005).  If I was to start charging my friends money in order to access my profile, read my status updates, and whatever else I publish, would they still want to be my “Facebook friend”? Would my 96 followers on twitter (as it stands right now at the time of writing) pay to read my tweets that are already openly accessible to the “twitterverse”? The answer quite simply is “No”.

If everyone had the publishing-paywall mentality, would sharing of information be so fluent as it is now? You wouldn’t pay to read blogs is they pretty much the same like this post entitled ‘This is the title of a typical incendiary blog post’:

This sentence contains a provocative statement that attracts the readers’ attention, but really only has very little to do with the topic of the blog post. This sentence claims to follow logically from the first sentence, though the connection is actually rather tenuous. This sentence claims that very few people are willing to admit the obvious inference of the last two sentences, with an implication that the reader is not one of those very few people”(Clarke 2010)

What’s difficult, but definitely not impossible, is differentitating what you publish from what is already there.  For example, after watching this video, everyone will know how to do a tv news report:

Its all about value for money. I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going to hide my posts behind a paywall. There are certain types of content that a paywall might be relevant for like online news content if it provides a lot more features than a regular newspaper. But at the moment, this blog is totally free to access, so let the sharing continue.

References

  1. Busfield, S 2010, ‘Publishers Take Note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book’ , theguardian.co.uk, 25 January 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls, accessed 10 March 2011
  2. Ibrahim, Y 2008, ‘The new risk communities: Social networking sites and risk’, International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 245-253.
  3. Nardi, B.A. 2005, ‘Beyond Bandwidth: Dimensions of Connection in Interpersonal Communitation,’ Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 14: pp. 91–130.
  4. Clarke, C 2010, ‘This Is The Title Of A Typical Incendiart Blog Post‘, blog post, http://faultline.org/index.php/site/item/incendiary, accessed 11 March 2011
  5. Brooker, C, ‘How To Report The News’, Youtube video, http://youtu.be/YtGSXMuWMR4, accessed 10 March 2011
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