Wednesday, February 10, 2010

McClatchy to give pay wall a pass

One of the largest newspaper chains in the U.S., McCatchy Co., is giving a big thumbs-down to the idea of charging for online content. McClatchy, which publishes such major dailies as the Miami Herald and Kansas City Star says it plans to keep access to its news sites free. CEO Gary Pruitt said Tuesday the company is "comfortable" with an ad-supported model without pay walls. "We are very comfortable with free content supported by advertising," Pruitt said. "We don't view it as fatally flawed. That said, if we could make ad revenue with paid products we would." Pruitt added in a speech to an online advertising conference in New York that McClatchy has no plans to block search engines such as Yahoo and Google because they drive 20 percent of traffic to McClatchy Web sites. "To disengage is to risk marginalization," he said. According to industy magazine Editor & Publisher, Pruitt said McClatchy has found the advertising-support search model profitable.
In fact, McClatchy credits its success in building online revenue to its alignments with several different Internet players including Yahoo, and CareerBuilder. Pruitt told the Borrell conference that online revenue in 2009 accounted for 16% of total revenue -- up from 11% in 2008.
This kind of thinking is countintuitve amid the panic that has gripped other publishers lately in a declining economy. The New York Times recently announced it will erect a paywall in an attempt to boost revenues to make up for lost advertising revenue.


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  2. The more I ponder the idea of pay walls the more uncertain I become. Maybe the right answer is different for every newspaper. Each one has attributes that make it unique, therefore making the question of pay walls also unique to every paper.