The Daily Paywall


October 17, 2011
by Alexis Mattera

You’re working on a paper in your dorm room one evening (not the night before it’s due, of course!) and are searching for sources to strengthen your argument. As you near the required page limit, you remember your brother mentioning a series of articles published in his school's newspaper a few months back that would help bolster your point. So you log on to the paper’s website and find the articles you are looking for...only to be met with a paywall.

You’re working on a paper in your dorm room one evening (not the night before it’s due, of course!) and are searching for sources to strengthen your argument. As you near the required page limit, you remember your brother mentioning a series of articles published in his school's newspaper a few months back that would help bolster your point. So you log on to the paper’s website and find the articles you are looking for...only to be met with a paywall.

If you haven’t experienced the scenario above, you may in the near future as a number of college newspapers are adding paywalls for online content access. Early adopters of the initiative aren’t charging on-campus users but are instead asking off-campus non-students for donations or relatively small dues depending on the amount of content they consume. How does it work? It depends on the school: For example, Boston University’s Daily Free Press added a donation page and Oklahoma State’s Daily O’Collegian charges a nominal $10 yearly fee to non-students outside a 25-mile radius of the college to access more than three articles a month.

The paywall initiative does have its supporters – BU calls it a “no-lose situation” and digital-subscription company Press+ has offered to cover the start-up fees of the first 50 campus papers that sign up for their service – but it also has its detractors: Jeff Jarvis, a blogger and professor of new media at the City University of New York, thinks colleges would be better off taking a page from Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and looking for alternative revenue streams. Where do you stand on the college newspaper paywall issue? Should the content be free to everyone or are fees a way to remedy the broken traditional media model?

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