Gannett's Outgoing Digital Chief Slams Paywalls

gannettChris Saridakis thinks paywalls are a terrible idea.

Gannett’s outgoing chief digital officer, Chris Saridakis, used his farewell letter to staffers as an opportunity to attack paywalls.Gannett Blog posted the full letter. Here’s an excerpt:

I do not believe a paid content/pay wall strategy will work for newspaper companies. I think the industry is going about it all wrong. If everyone decides to charge for content that a consumer will need to pay for based on usage, then every newspaper company will have learn how to market like a consumer packaged goods company overnight. They will have to build consumer experiences at the same level that Apple, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble do every day. When you ask for a share of the consumers’ wallet, the individual will not measure their return by how many pieces of content they read, but by the value that they received in greater knowledge and that value can be quantified by how many of those consumers become your best promoters. Limiting access to content through pay walls minimizes the chances a consumer has in promoting your product. It will also limit your total audience.

Gannett hasn’t yet announced paywall plans for any of its papers’ websites.

But there are a handful of newspapers that are gearing up to charge for online content. Most notably, The New York Times, whose website you’ll have to start ponying up to read as of January 2011.

There are also a handful of newspapers whose paywalls have failed. Like Newsday, whose $4 million redesigned website only managed to rope in 35 non-print-edition subscribers during the first three months after its paywall launched last October.

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