Salmon: Why the Bloomberg paywall doesn’t make sense
Felix Salmon of Slate writes about why the newly installed paywall at Bloomberg.com doesn’t make any sense.
Salmon writes, “By implementing a paywall, Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith can try to stop his unit from losing money by asking the broad world of internet consumers to pay $420 a year, or roughly 2 percent of the cost of a terminal subscription. But the fact is that the news those consumers are paying for is not the news that racks up hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses every year for Bloomberg Media. The paywall kicks in when you read 10 articles a month by journalists who are paid by the terminal business. The expenses, on the other hand, are concentrated within Bloomberg’s broadcast operations, and especially its misbegotten TV station.
“Which is why, ultimately, the Bloomberg paywall feels much less justifiable than just about any other paywall. You’re not paying for the news you’re reading; instead, you’re paying for the television content you’re almost certainly not watching. Bloomberg LP might have some strategic interest in the television station, or it might serve some vanity purpose for Mike Bloomberg personally. But it feels wrong to ask for the TV station’s losses to be borne by readers of the website, very few of whom have any interest in its content, and all of whom have much less ability to pay for those losses than Mike Bloomberg does.
“Besides, for anyone other than Mike Bloomberg, money is a zero-sum game: If you spend it one place, that means you have less of it to spend somewhere else. If you’re going to spend $420 a year on news, there are much more deserving places to spend it than Bloomberg. Paywalls are here to stay, and that’s almost certainly a good thing for the economics of the news industry as a whole. But a good paywall should pay for the journalism that its subscribers are reading, not for a broadcast folly that almost nobody watches.”
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