Whether digital news should be free or chargeable; it’s now like sport – you’re apparently either for or against; red vs blue. That’s the unedifying subtext framing things in many an industry arena lately.
During last week’s Internet Week Europe, a Webby Debates crowd sat back as FT.com managing editor Robert Shrimsley and Guardian.co.uk editor Janine Gibson put their respective cases. So the intellectual fur was charged to fly. Can’t we all just get along… ?
– Shrimsley: “People who pay are hugely more engaged than occasional users.”
– Gibson: “That’s fine, I just don’t think it’s very interesting. It’s a bit like having a party but saying ‘only eight people’.”
– Shrimsley: “You can have a really good newspaper but, if it’s a bad business, then you’re basically doomed.”
– Gibson: “We are often described as being ideologically against paying for journalism; this is complete rubbish.”
– Shrimsley: “The Guardian’s got people prepared to fund losses while it makes the transition.”
– Gibson: “On the paywall, we ran the numbers; they didn’t work for us.”