Good news, London’s venerable newspaper The Daily Telegraph has dropped its easily-sidetepped metered paywall, and is now going for a hybrid approach. Previously a reader had 20 free articles a month, then the paywall descended. With the new system there’s a 20% premium / 80% free split, with premium articles going behind a “hard” paywall. This paid-for premium content is described as the “most unique, in-depth and insightful journalism” and “interviews, opinion pieces, features and some of your favourite Telegraph writers”.
It’s difficult to get at what the new subscription tiers offer, as they’re hidden behind a “30-days free” offer page that demands your details first. But NiemanLab reports that the lowest level of £2 (about $2.80 US) per week will get plain Web browser access to premium stories, with more expensive options offering scanned ‘paper newspaper’ facsimiles and swoosh-y interactive tablet editions. So about $10-$12 a month for basic premium access. No details about payment options — can British users pay via PayPal and in dollars, or is it ‘Credit Cards Only’? I get paid in $s these days, via PayPal. So dollars are my cheapest and most convenient option, even though I’m in the UK.
I suspect that there will be some bonuses flying back to a journalist whose article gets snaffled by a sub-editor for the ‘premium’ category, but the “hard” paywall content — presumably only very minimally exposed to the open Web — should help to prevent any rush-to-clickbait tendencies among the paper’s journalists. That’s an interesting way around the click-bait problem at newspapers, if it works. The Telegraph is apparently profitable to the tune of £50m a year, so it can afford to take a few risks and try things out.
Personally I’d be inclined to pay a premium Web subscription if I could bin the tablet-tastic thin-column layout, and instead get a layout that actually fits a widescreen desktop monitor. This is what the Business section looks like to me in Firefox…