By Dan Costa, PC MAg.com
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The publishing industry is trying to put the genie back in the bottle. Although nearly every attempt to get users to pay for content online has failed, publishers are still in the fruitless pursuit of subscription-based business models. News Corp. recently announced it was pursuing a company-wide paid content program. You might expect a venerable conservative icon like Rupert Murdoch to cling to an outdated business model, but the approach has a romantic appeal to more progressive leaders, too, including our own Editor-in-Chief Lance Ulanoff. The thing is: It isn’t going to work. It’s time for old media to burn the ships and build businesses for the new world of digital media.
To be clear: For now, PCMag.com isn’t pursuing a paid model as fervently as News Corp. is. Although we charge a small fee for the Digital Edition of PC Magazine, all of our content is available free on our Web site. And as far as I know, it will remain free indefinitely. Still, Lance’s column a few days ago decried the decline of the “free Web” and predicted that the majority of publishers were going to rush to build pay walls and lock their content away behind them. I doubt that the pay-wall movement will be that large, but regardless, here is why it is doomed to fail.