On the subject of the Times paywall, I’ve been asking myself: why do I buy newspapers? In fact now I only regularly buy the Sunday Times, which costs £2 a week, the same as the paywall that I’m still unwilling to breach. So why do I buy the Sunday Times for £2 a week?
1. telly guide
2. cryptic crossword
3. a general Sunday ritual
5. film, book and music reviews
For those reasons in that order. I’ll read the sport and some of the news, but it will be stuff I already know from the TV and internet, mainly the BBC. I don’t care about most of the ST lifestyle supplements. I’ll leaf through the mag.
The Times paywall can only offer me 4 and 5, in a different format. But The Guardian is just as good for reviews, if not better, so 5 is irrelevant. That leaves the columnists. The Times probably does have the best roster of hacks, but are they worth £2 a week compared to free papers and blogs?
Possibly, but the other side to this, strangely, is that if I did pay £2 a week I would feel obliged to read them regularly in order to get my money’s worth, and I don’t want to feel tied.
The Times Online needs to tempt me with something new that only it can offer. The web offers interactivity, so perhaps it needs to make its columnists work much harder. Get them all to interact with readers in the way that Peter Hitchens does - in the way that, um, bloggers do for free.