Paywalls are Just Newspapers Way of Saying Goodbye

Over at PaidContent, Mathew Ingram talked about paywalls and where future growth would come from. Ingram admits that paywalls can bring an infusion of cash for organizations that haven't seen an infusion of cash for a long time but:
"The average age of a newspaper reader is currently somewhere around 57 — a survey conducted for the industry by Scarborough Research showed that more than two-thirds of readers are over the age of 45, Mutter says. While paywalls may be doing a great job of keeping those users from bolting to the web to read everything for free, and possibly of increasing print circulation (which is where a majority of newspaper revenue is still coming from), how do they help bring in new readers? The short answer is that they don’t, or at least not very many."

Young people have no nostalgia for or habitual ties to printed newspapers. Everyone currently under 30 has grown up with free online news. There is, and will continue to be, a plentiful supply of free online news. There is currently no incentive for them to switch to paywalled websites just because they happen to belong to organizations that used to print the news on paper.

So, by erecting a paywall newspapers are essentially saying goodbye to the world. It is a proclamation that they will serve and eventually die off with the last generation for whom the sunday paper was a tradition. They may not admit as much. They will point at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal as examples, but those are bad examples. The Wall Street Journal has a deep pocketed niche market to serve and the New York Times is the New York Times, with immeasurable prestige and a worldwide audience.

For newspapers that aren't the NYT or WSJ a paywall isn't so much an announcement that they are closing up shop as it is a admission that they have failed to adapt, don't know how to survive in the digital world and have decided to retire and play shuffleboard with a few close friends until the lights finally go out.
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