Paywall proposal needs more thought

OlympiaDecember 18, 2012 

T he Olympian’s switch to a website paywall strikes me as inevitable given changing newspaper economics. The big question is how to do it. I suspect that your approach may not live up to expectations for two reasons. First, it isn’t clear that you recognize the value of being a capital city newspaper. The Olympian might generate more subscribers from around the state if folks could pay only for capital coverage. Of course, the price would need to be in sync with the level of coverage. Brad Shannon is an outstanding reporter and the analytical quality of your editorials has recently improved. However, you still need more boots on the ground to be the capital’s paper of record. Why not ask readers what additional content you could offer that isn’t available from The Seattle Times and TVW? Second, I wonder whether The Olympian can charge so much for a Web subscription without rethinking the basic structure of your local content. You offer a vague promise of “other” digital products, but that may not be a compelling sales pitch to those dissatisfied with your current content. I hope the switch to a paywall isn’t a half-hearted effort to extract as much revenue as possible before folding The Olympian into The News Tribune.

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