Most People Do Not Want To Pay For Online News – They Want It Free

I just read an article in which 2,000 average citizens like you and me who surf the web were asked the following question.

“How much, if anything, would you be willing to pay per month in order to read a daily newspaper’s content online?”

Surprise! The vast majority do not want to pay anything. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Here are the survey results:

Click On The Graph To Enlarge It

In addition there is also this:

Will it convince the old guard that paywalls are a dumb idea? Almost certainly not, of course. Those in charge of newsprint’s oldest purse strings will argue that their position on paywalls is the right one, and that the public just needs to like it or lump it. They’ll probably even throw in the tired old line that this is the only route to go if the tradition of the free (how ironic) press is to be continued into the future. But it seems those advocating this tactic will have a lot of work to do: Convincing nearly 80% of its audience that they’re wrong won’t be easy.

I wasn’t one of the survey participants, but I must say that I agree with the results. I personally believe that most newspapers are going to be hard pressed to setup a pay wall and charge for their news.

Comments welcome.


Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

  • Ryan Farmer

    I for one WANT to pay for online news, I hate money, I want them to take all of it so I can read the government propaganda and other assorted crap.

    Especially the Rupert Murdoch Fixed Noise Channel, that’s the good kind of crack, I hope he charges a lot for it. *grin*

  • Buffet

    Pay? At first I thought the headline was a joke. What they need is a generous dose of reality, if they actually expect anyone to pay for that rubbish. I don’t read it when it’s free.

  • D

    Have never understood with newspapers using advertising as their funding model…why do they even need to have subscribers?

    Having worked in broadcasting for years…they use advertising to pay the bills with no subscriber fees. Just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t mean it’s correct. Maybe…just maybe they may be forced to change their business model…because they are forced to. Of course…I forgot to mention the factor which will always step in the way to make sure this doesn’t happen…the US government. Always the best government you can buy!

  • Dick

    Our daily news rag would have to pay me to read it, whether it’s published on paper, on-line, or written in the stars.
    I can hit 4 or 5 sites each morning and get an accurate update on the news without the pain of a local paper.
    I would pay a small amount monthly for the sites I use daily. It’s not an issue of paying, but of paying for something I want.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Dick,
    My feelings as well. Our local rag is 50% retail and new car advertisements! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It is appreciated.
    Regards, Ron

  • Ron Schenone

    Buffet and D,
    It looks like there are many of us who are not going to pay. I personally believe that newspapers need to look for a NEW business model and a paywall may not be the answer.

    Thanks, Ron

  • Utinni

    Of course nobody wants to pay for news. I don’t want to pay for anything, ever.

    The question is: Will people be willing to pay for news? Someone’s going to have to pay for it — the people consuming it, advertisers, a rich Saudi prince — or it’s going to disappear.

    I’m kind of surprised news orgs continue to spend so much on their Web sites and mobile offerings and giving away the stories and photos they produce without a decent business model.

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Utinni,
    Exactly. It just seems dumb to me as well.

  • Ryan Farmer

    Ron: They actually have a free newspaper that everyone in this county gets, fully paid for by ads.

    I’ve asked them to stop leaving their dead trees on my porch, but another one keeps coming twice a week.

    Can I make a littering complaint?

  • Ron Schenone

    Hi Ryan,
    That would be an interesting concept. Charge the paper with littering. If you didn’t ask for the delivery it should not be there on your porch.

  • Gary Bing

    It was the early 1980’s. I watched my buds watch TV with a remote control with a 15 foot wire attached to it (some ‘remote”) That “service” cost $15 a month and highlighted “Bronco Billy” playing six times a day for over a month. The six year old boy had memorized the lines to the movie his father said. I said at least he didn’t mime the commercials. He said there aren’t any-it’s cable. To which I replied, “For now, give them time.” I had spoken at my college that the idea of carping about the price of news print was not a valid argument given cable, which we could read the paper on TV. I was told that technology was decades away. No. It wasn’t. I could read the LA Times as an add on on my cable bill, come on. Now it’s 2010. LA Times sent me a give-a -way offer practically, for the paper. No mention of an online version that I’d be willing to pay the full subscription rate for, and maybe if enough of us force them to do it, they can afford to rehire the eighty they just let go.I think the reporters need to be paid just like you and I. And your going to just get the quality of programming and “news” that you pay for. Some papers just belt out stuff from the wire services. MTV used to be free from commercials. If you eliminated the commercials on it now you’d be seeing not much more with any substance anyway.Music Videos anyone? I was that six year old boy in 1960 watching an anti ad for pay TV that showed a TV console with a greedy grin with bills with big dollar signs on them going right into the TV. Deliciously cheap but effective ad. Now they have their cake and eat it too, leaving us with crumbs in the form of crummy programing that we pay for twice–in advertising we still have to endure and an ever increasing cable bill. ( I know some households whose cable bill exceeds some new car payments) The water in my town has been found the best in the country. But I still see people loading up their carts with bottled water from a large soft drink conglomerate that uses recycled/reclaimed water. Their are turds in them thar hills. (bottled water) These people are hardly buying their earthquake stock, buying some bottles that have “nipples” on them. “A sucker is born every minute.”

  • Tammy Mortenson

    I’m with the people that wouldn’t pay. But there is a reason. In the last two years, the quality of the reporters went to pot. They fired all the decent reporters and hired a bunch of interns that don’t know the basics of Comp 101. The “who, what, why, where and when” of a story is gone. If the person committing the crime is of color, they provide no description at all of the person. If there is an error, which happens often, it is fixed only when a reader complains. I have given up on the newspaper, and mainly look at the local tv news stations’ web sites to find what I need, and only occasionally look at our newspaper, for obits, births, divorces, etc.

  • MerryMarjie

    I am not amenable to the idea of paying for Internet content, and yet, I have paid for a few special sites. I pay $5 a year to because I believe they have special weather info that I enjoy, I contribute to a few political sites to mollify my sense of civic duty, and I joined a game site just to avoid the intrusive advertising. Commercials are all around us, from the TV’s in the supermarkets to the bus benches we pass every day, and it hit me squarely this past summer when I took the grandkids to the movies and found out there are commercials in the theaters. I would not be surprised now if I found printed ads on my toilet tissue. I expect this commerciality will only get worse, and we will slip into a whole new world of advertising opportunities in the very near future, even WITH monetary compensation to Internet sites.

    This post has been brought to you by…nevermind.

  • spandle

    So, would you pay for an email to you personally? What if the website DIDN’T get paid for advertising? Would you pay then? How much?

    On the flip side, would you put in a lot of time and effort to doing something that you wouldn’t get paid for? So, how do you feed your family, being a reporter, that doesn’t get paid for your reporting?

    Most people will pay for something that is Personal. It’s your Personal Subscription, emailed to you everyday. If you wish to spend the time going from website to website, that’s alright. It’s up to you.