In his first staff meeting at The Washington Post this week, Jeff Bezos, the newspaper’s new owner, pitched the idea of selling digital news content in a bundled format.
He stressed that the paper should be focused on loyal readers and tablet users, versus random hits generated from the web. Here is more from The Washington Post:
He repeatedly said that the success of The Post depends on its ability to draw readers into a “daily ritual habit” of reading across a collection of different topics — and paying for it. “People will buy a package,” Bezos said, “they will not pay for a story.”
But is this really a good idea? Online news works differently than eBooks and even Kindle Singles, which people are more willing to buy. Consumers are used to the news being free online and will go to find the same story in another publication if they can’t find it on a specific news site. The idea of cutting the paper off from the traffic that a story can get from social media because of a paywall, could mean that the paper has less reach. Post writer Timothy B. Lee criticized the idea. He writes:
The problem with the “bundle” strategy, then, is that it encourages writers to think small. It asks them to cater to the hundreds of thousands of people who read The Post every day, ignoring the vastly larger universe of readers who might be enticed to visit the site from elsewhere on the Web.