Washington Post Paywalls Might Sacrifice Public-Interest Reporting

Washington Post building back before the web was even a thing. (Flickr Creative Commons: DC Public Library Commons)

Dean Starkman at CJR has a meditation on what will survive when The Washington Post puts up paywalls for its online content.  Weighing sustainability and readability issues, Starkman mourns the possibility that the Post’s recent shows of public-interest feature reporting won’t rake in audience dollars. He offers a page-one profile of a lower-middle class high school student struggling to make it out of her home town.

“[L]et’s face it,” he writes, “the downer subject, and the five screens of copy, all but cry, ‘skip me.’  It had other obstacles to popularity. It’s written in newspaper-feature-ese, so some of the writing might seem strained, depending on your taste.  I couldn’t find it on my mobile phone, either on the Post’s mobile app or via my browser.  The piece is economics-statistics-free–a smart editorial decision, but it doesn’t leave much room for interactivity.”

Starkman notes that type of public interest reporting is important because it connects elite readers with people and stories they would otherwise never know about. But it also takes months to report and comes, therefore, with a hefty price tag.

Pew Poll Shows Men and the Highly Educated Read Most News

Men lead the way in the gender race for the most news-informed. (via Creative Commons: The Library of Congress)

Poynter has the results of a Pew poll that shows men and the more highly educated are the most active news junkies out there.  The study also showed that young people–despite their almost total aversion to print publications–take in digital news at a similar rate as older people.  Most of those polled said that they prefer a “print-like reading experience” on digital devices.  Obviously, this bodes well for advertisers seeking to reach the 18-29 demographic through the web.