"Would you rather have a relationship with an outlet that is always asking you for money, or with one that sees you as a partner and gives you membership benefits that sometimes involve having you pay for things?" Ingram explains:
Instead of just hitting a wall after a certain number of stories, readers who contributed comments or moderated the comments of others — or provided other forms of useful data or labor — might get a benefit that others wouldn’t, whether it’s access to certain content or an invitation to a real-world event they might be interested in. In that case, readers might actually volunteer to pay, because it would no longer be seen as a duty but instead would be something useful to them.
David Carr scoffs: "Don’t build a paywall, create a velvet rope made out of [social] media pixie dust and see if that pays the bills."
When users visit the web sites of partners like the New York Daily News and the Texas Tribune, they'll find some articles partially blocked. If they want to continuing reading, they'll have to answer a question, or microsurvey, courtesy of Google ...
What's in it for publishers? Advertisers pay Google to run the surveys, and Google pays sites 5 cents per response. For sites with a lot of traffic, that can add up to serious cash. Publishers can implement Google Customer Surveys on as many stories as they'd like—as is the case with partner LimaOhio.com—or in a metered, frequency-capped fashion.
Michael Wolff has seen the future of news in the age of mobile, and it's decidedly apocalyptic. Real-time auctions are pulling down already-low digital ad prices; the recent fascination with paywalls is a "roach-like adaptation" to a hostile economic environment with no good alternatives; and:
The bleak or non-existent future for news professionals in a mobile-dominated world is further compounded by our remoteness from, and antipathy to, the thing that has always fed us: advertising. The news business began and thrived on the basis of an historic, if anomalous partnership between the immediate and the commercial. Freedom of the press had as much to do with department stores as with the constitution.
Oddly, we writers have been at a loss for words as compadres were pink-slipped or took buyouts. But whenever we spotted one walking out of the newsroom for the last time, we stood to applaud … In my profession of soulful storytellers, the value of work can take on mythical proportions. But at the end of the day, it is not all we are.