Why Paywalls Won’t Work

Adam Lashinsky, editor of Fortune, posted a blog on LinkedIn that referenced a Fortune article that was blocked by a paywall, prompting users to shout “self-promotion” and “bait and switch.” This has prompted a rebuttal on the value of journalism from Lashinsky which has only fueled the fire.  Unfortunately for the senior editor, content is unlikely to work behind a paywall, particularly when referred via social.  People who are driven to Fortune from LinkedIn or Facebook or some other social site, likely do not place a premium on Fortune. It’s like comparing an Opera singer’s reception at a grocery store vs Lincoln Center. It is lacking context. And we’ve seen time and time again the failings of social commerce as consumers are simply not in a mindset to buy.

The fragmentation of media has devalued sources and media authorities, democratizing the playing field. As more and more consumers access media through aggregators like Reddit or Flipboard, the original source becomes diluted. While I do feel that authors have not lost their place quite yet, publishers are beginning to and it’s a tough pill to swallow for media owners whose inventory increasingly moves to ad exchanges.