Everyone likes to point to the New York Times as the model for a news outlet with a successful paywall or online-subscription model, but as the authors of Columbia University’s report on “Post-industrial Journalism” noted last year, there is only one New York Times — just as there is only one Wall Street Journal. The only real lesson that these publishers have to teach other news outlets when it comes to paywalls is: “Too bad you aren’t the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.”
Among the smaller players, however, some interesting lessons are emerging about what makes a subscription model work. For me at least, one of the most compelling is that your ability to build and maintain a strong connection to your community is crucial — and the example of Holland’s massively successful crowdfunded news site De Correspondent is a case in point.
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