In the Sunday edition of the Washington Post dated March 25, the ombudsman discusses the possibility to set up a paywall on the Washington Post website. His conclusion which he obviously shares with the top management is: no paywall for us.
And yet, in the US, more and more newspapers turn to asking fees to their internauts. It is the case of the New York Times which announces 500000 subscribers wiling to pay 15 dollars to have a full access. The Gannet group has also transfered its 80 regional newspapers to a paying service. The Los Angeles Times has also set up a paywall since March 5.
And yet, some newspapers in America and in Europe are reluctant to move forward. The WP for instance considers that its Internet readership is not big enough to start such a move. It is afraid of losing too many internauts and it hopes to attract readers who are not willing to pay for the New York Times. They are also aware that there are many ways to get articles for free through Facebook or Google search engines, a situation that the Times management recognizes but considers is not relevant.
In France,the management of le Monde is of two minds on the pay wall. Its subscription rate is very expensive, 14 euros per month and you can get a large choice of articles for free on leMonde.fr. My opinion is that le Monde which has a powerful image could follow the exemple of the Times and collect hundreds of thousands of subscribers with a moderate rate of about 8 euros a month and a much reduced free offer.
Anyway, the lesson of the last few years is that advertising will never finance the news on the Web. Readers will have to pay if they want to stay well informed.