Wednesday, September 16, 2009

13th Forum: Paywalls - build them, break them or look beyond them?

The newspaper business has never been simple, but the business model has typically been straightforward: compile news and information for which readers pay in time and money, and then also sell their attention on to advertisers looking to connect with customers.

It's not surprising then that when print publications migrated online, they brought their traditions with them. Those on the editorial side of the business, soon found out it wasn't as simple as it seemed. Those on the commercial side of the business are finding that out, too.

With advertising revenues collapsing, Rupert Murdoch hopes readers will pay to read his websites. Research commissioned by the American Press Institute showed that 58% of publishers in the US and Canada are considering following suit. And technology giants Google, Yahoo and IBM , as well as start-ups like JournalismOnline, are stepping up to help them do so.

It's not been difficult to find detractors. Amongst them are leading UK news executives and commetators who are adament that the free-to-pay transition won't work. And a recent paidContent UK / Harris Interactive study shows that UK readers would resist the move, too.

Other have suggested alternative non-commercial and commercial business models.

So, what is the way forward on paywalls? Do we build them, break them - or look beyond them?

Leading a discussion on that question at the 13th Jouranlism Leaders Forum on 29th October will be Martha Stone, director of the World Association of Newspapers-IFRA's Shaping the Future of the Newspapers project, and Robert Andrews, the UK Editor of paidContent.

François Nel, director of the Journalism Leaders Programme at UCLan, will be in the chair.

To attend the open Forum at 6pm in Greenbank Lecture Theatre - as well as the reception from 5pm - please register soonest. There is no charge, but seating is limited.

If you can't be there in person, there are other ways to join the discussion. You can post your questions and comments on this site, or you can participate in the live Webcast by logging in here as a "guest". Online participants will be able to post questions to panelists and each each other in a text chat room.

Also in Preston earlier on the day of the Forum is autumn meeting of the Digital Editors Network, with speakers from Microsoft, UCLan, The Guardian and the Press Association (This event is now Fully Booked).

For more information about these and other activities of the UCLAN's Journalism Leaders Programme, which partners with media companies to develop leadership talent and innovative digital business solutions, contact François Nel by email or Skype (francoisnel).

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