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Three years into nonprofit ownership, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still trying to chart its future
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Jan. 4, 2012, 10:25 a.m.
LINK: www.shirky.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   January 4, 2012

A new post from Clay Shirky, sure to be widely read:

To understand newspapers’ 15-year attachment to paywalls, you have to understand “Everyone must pay!” not just as an economic assertion, but as a cultural one. Though the journalists all knew readership would plummet if their paper dropped imported content like Dear Abby or the funny pages, they never really had to know just how few people were reading about the City Council or the water main break. Part of the appeal of paywalls, even in the face of their economic ineffectiveness, was preserving this sense that a coupon-clipper and a news junkie were both just customers, people whose motivations the paper could serve in general, without having to understand in particular.

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