Is The Sun about to put up an online paywall? Gordon MacMillan, social media editor at Haymarket, points to a clue that suggests – at least to him – that the paper’s publisher, News International, might well be heading in that direction.
That clue is the existence of an archive website, which offers paying users the chance to access articles from both The Sun and the now-defunct News of the World.
I took out the minimum subscription (£2.50 for five downloads) and did a couple of searches. It was far from ideal – sometimes bringing up the same article five times over.
But it did allow me to acquire News of the World articles about Milly Dowler, including the infamous 14 April 2002 story, “Missing Milly ‘hoax’ outrage”, in which the paper admitted to hacking her phone..
So, even though News Int has closed the paper because of the hacking her voicemails, it appears happy to trade on such controversial editorial content.
Then again, on second thoughts and in fairness, it is helpful for researchers to have access the dead paper’s full, unexpurgated content and it would be wrong for the publisher to withdraw items it might regard as embarrassing.
It is a valuable, if expensive, resource (with free searches, of course). If one is prepared to pay more, the cost of obtaining individual articles goes down a little.
You can get 12 downloads for £5 (42p per article) or 25 downloads for £10 (40p per article).
What remains uncertain is whether the creation of this archive does herald the erection of a Sun paywall. Surely not.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.