Fittingly, Politico’s media reporter Dylan Byers has the memo. Apparently, Politico won’t miss a few
Idahoans or Rhode Islanders or Czechs:
Here is how the experiment will work: Readers overseas and in six states will be required to pay for our content after consuming a set number of pages of it, much like they do when visiting The New York Times, The Boston Globe and scores of other news sources. We will experiment with a few different price points and page limits to find the sweet spot for our readership. We chose smaller states, spread across the country, so our experiment captures any regional trends and also limits any potential loss of traffic to the site. This will last at least six months, so we have a large enough sample to appraise the results.
The decision to test a broader subscription model represents a shift in our thinking. As recently as a few months ago, we thought it was premature for POLITICO to start asking readers to pay for content, outside of Pro. But, it is increasingly clear that readers are more willing than we once thought to pay for content they value and enjoy. With more than 300 media companies now charging for online content in the U.S., the notion of paying to read expensive-to-produce journalism is no longer that exotic for sophisticated consumers. This is a very promising, if uncertain, trend in our country. The collective decision by media companies to give away for free a product of high value and high cost will go down as one of the worst, self-defeating moves in the history of industry. Thankfully, there are some signs this is changing.
For the record, they haven’t said which six states will get the stiff-arm. (Update: The list is out: Iowa, North Dakota, Vermont, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Sorry, Cheyenners and Amesians, Albuquerquers and Biloxians.) As Sam Stein jokes:
Longtime paywall watchers will remember that The New York Times tested its paywall in Canada in 2011 before bringing it to the U.S. of A.
Also worth noting that the Politico memo falsely claims The Boston Globe has a metered paywall. It doesn’t.