Paywalls! Paywalls! Paywalls!

July 13, 2010

Huge paywalls! Surrounding us! Insurmountable paywalls! AAAHHH!!!!

What’s a paywall? You bell end. How dare you ask such a question. You should be informing yourself on a daily, nay, hourly basis, on all new trends in online news and how it is/will/maybe changes from being merely directionless, Wi-Fi Cancer rays to being beamed directly into your brain via glossy, contemporarily designed websites.

But you can’t, of course. You can’t inform yourself, because of the PAYWALLS. Giant walls, constructed purely from pay and san-serif fonts, stopping us from reading about the news. The news, you see. The NEWS.

The Times over in England is now charging us for its online content, (€1.50 a day or €3 a week) and essentially, it’s playing the part of the budgie down the mines, only with an above average number of people wanting this particular budgie to die a horrible death – choking on a gas that for this metaphor, I will call “a lack of subscribers willing to pay for online news”. Read my beautiful prose.


The Times Paywall


So, does this even matter to us? Of course it does. Paying for stuff always matters. The Times wants us to reach for our wallet, take out our cards, type in some ridiculously long digits and then do it again because you made a typo. And then they’re gonna take €3 a week off you (€156 a year) for the pleasure of reading off a laptop screen. Are we ready for this? Are we ready for purely digital content, that at the end of the day is disposable? I can’t bring myself to pay for music that doesn’t have a CD attached. Buying games off Steam still seems strange to me. I have cupboards, I want to fill them with shit. Shit that I own, shit that will probably just gather dust, but by God, at least it has the physical capability to gather dust. I still like something tangible, something that’s not just 1’s and 0’s that exist on a server in India. Something that I can lick, had I ever the desire to do so.

But maybe I’m a Neanderthal. I fully admit that. I’m a Multimedia graduate, online consuming digital native who craves all sorts of online technological crap. But I also have cupboards. That I like to have filled.


It’s a strange one really. Some sites being pay only, other sites being free, all sites seemingly regurgitating the same shit from newswires and press offices anyway. Course The Times might have the right idea. If it can create actual, good, original, content (that’s hopefully 3D and gives me seizures) then people might actually be willing to pay for it. After all, it’s cheaper then buying the actual paper. And if it engages in actual investigative journalism, then people might actually pay for the scoops in an otherwise scoopless world without paywalls. Because this stuff costs money. Which can only be gotten by asking us to clamber up a paywall and toss some coins through a payslot, supposedly.

But then, there’s talks that if newspapers forgo print versions, the huge savings in producing an actual paper will save them. There’s also talks that if online newspapers actually engage users and create communities, then the information gathered will mean huge gains in targeted advertising (the way Facebook is using your information as we speak to give you ads about what YOU want, i.e., fucking and beer).

But you don’t give a shit do you? This has been going on a while now, and most of you probably hadn’t even noticed. Which is most of the problem. Rupert Murdoch (he owns The Times, Fox and a large part of 4th circle of hell, in case you really don’t give a shit) needs to learn that for the most part, this is still an issue that journalists and public relations folk are worrying about while the rest of us get with filling our cupboards and laughing at cats.

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