Political junkies may have a bit less change in their pockets after this summer: The Washington Post is setting up a metered paywall for its online content. The staple of D.C. news will begin charging users who view more than 20 articles per month, “although the company has not yet decided how much it will charge,” wrote Washington Post writer, Steven Mufson, in the Washington Post about the Washington Post (meta).
Like many newspapers, the Post continues to bleed revenue: It reported fourth-quarter 2012 losses of $45.4 million, from $78 million in net income. Even though the Post reports that this is a 15-percent increase from 2011, it isn’t enough to buoy the beleaguered media giant.
Paywalls have been an unexpected hit. After doomsday predictions for the New York Times, the Gray Lady boasted $91 million from its paid content experiment, helping subscription revenue to finally eclipse ad revenue. “The rise of digital paid content could also have a positive impact on the quality of journalism, as news organizations strive to produce unique and high-quality content that the public believes is worth paying for,” argued a bullish Pew Report out today on the state of journalism in 2013.
The Post is looking to edge in on some of those sweet, sweet subscription dollars of its digitally addicted readers. But before readers see paywalls as a panacea for Louis Lane-style journalism, they should keep in mind that the New York Times company that still had $88 million in losses for the second quarter of last year.
The Post also announced it will develop an iPad app. Current subscribers of the Post won’t have to fret about shelling out more money. “Home-delivery subscribers will continue to have free access to all of The Post’s digital products. And students, teachers, school administrators, government employees and military personnel will have unlimited access to The Post while in their schools and workplaces,” writes Mufson.
Most importantly, I’m also announcing that TechCrunch’s content will continue to be free for all users, no matter how much you all read.