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As a result of the latest strategic moves by media such as El País and El Mundo, which have implemented pay walls to access their content, it is necessary to go deeper into new business models in the media sector. Gradually, other forms of financing – other than those already existing – are being established in traditional newspapers. Therefore, it is worth reflecting on whether these forms could be, in the near future, the most profitable alternative for economic subsistence in a reality where digital predominates.

The Origin Of The Problem

In the midst of the digital era, numerous media have long been exploring different financing alternatives to get their content to users and, at the same time, to make up for the losses caused by the decline in investment in print advertising. This is undoubtedly a complex problem.

As a result of the expansion of content in digital format, many media started publishing news and reports on the Internet and this, consequently, provoked in the reader a mentality of free access to all information. Today, it is difficult to break this generalized inertia and, therefore, the media have to find creative and exclusive solutions to convince users to pay a certain fee to access the information they have been reading for so long, completely free of charge.

Different Perspectives From The Same Outlook

Media has a clear challenge ahead: to combine new payment strategies in the form of subscriptions to general or exclusive content without definitively breaking traditional advertising revenues. It is clear that the current status requires a complex solution that affects not only the channel through which media content is launched, but also the work dynamics of journalists and media professionals.

Given the importance of this issue, there are many experts in the field who give their opinion on the matter, thus generating a wide range of opinions. The following are some of the most important ones:

Subscription models are a first step toward a model in which the user is the center. Moreover, this new alternative requires a cultural change in editorial offices.”

Pepe Cerezo, author of “Los medios ante los medios de suscripción”.

In most of the countries around us, these payment models are much more advanced. It is an essential way to ensure the subsistence of most newspapers in the medium and long term.”

Ismael Nafría, author of “The reinvention of The New York Times”.

It is necessary to teach the reader the need to pay for quality journalism”.

Casimiro García Abadillo, Director of El Independiente.


The Paywall Has A Future that Has Been Proven

From the real scenario that contemplates the coexistence between traditional paper and digital media, the latter must make their way to the new generations that arrive. According to a survey conducted by Estudio de Comunicación entitled “Paywalls in digital media”, the payment for content has a future. The survey of more than 500 interviews in an age range between 18 and 65 years reveals that the most valued factors are credibility (76.32 %) and recognized quality teams (51.32 %), respect for journalistic ethics (47.11 %) and independence from politics (41.58 %).        

In conclusion, of the total number of respondents, 60.12 % consider “acceptable the establishment of paywalls in online media” (based on rigor) and up to 41.18 % between 18 and 35 years old “would be willing to pay only for investigative journalistic content or exclusive content” and, finally, 29.08 % “for all types of content”. Regarding advertising, 24.18% “see it as acceptable” on paywalls “as long as it does not become invasive”. This is the first real demonstration of this challenge.