As the NYTimes.com prepares to launch its metered pay model any day now, the topic of paywalls is something every media organization is exploring. The views on the value of charging readers flew back and forth during an afternoon session at the paidContent 2011 conference, where Robert Andrews, UK Editor, paidContent, moderated a discussion on the issue. On one end, Justin Smith, president, Atlantic Media, argued that media companies need to consider the costs involved before merely slapping a paywall around their content. At the other end, Rob Grimshaw, managing director, FT.com, and Gordon Crovitz, co-founder, Journalism Online.
Audience tweets clearly were against the case for charging. Reuters’ blogger Felix Salmon applauded an apparent admission from The Atlantic’s Smith: “Go Justin Smith! Admitting that general-interest ideas-based brands can’t charge for content online.”
Not exactly the last word on the matter, but it certainly demonstrates that not everyone believes paywalls will save publishers.