I’ve just read on utalkmarketing that the Times and The Sunday Times will start charging for access to it’s content from June 2010.

This is truly a big moment for the entire traditional publishing industry and journalism as a whole. But will it work?

Personally while I might be happy to pay a £1 for a really interesting article, whether I’d pay in advance while just browsing through the web where there are so many free distractions to occupy my time and provide me with news, I’m not so sure. It also makes me think that any really big story will surely just be syndicated elsewhere anyway… It would just take one person with a subscription to start sharing news with their ‘friends’, and the whole revenue model is made ineffective. Adding this barrier would then purely reduce the already diminishing advertising revenues and readerships of the source of the content.

Rather than restricting access to it’s pages, perhaps newspapers would be better forcusing on online domination of the serps and more inclusive ways to monitise their rich and valuable content. They could then charge for ‘extras’, specific to a particular users interests. Focusing on charging for niche content would also make the sharing of stories less relevant as there are fewer people interested in niche articles. Thus the newspapers would be the ‘hub’ of content on the topic. Surely this is something much more worth charging for.

Clearly this is a tricky area, quality journalism should be paid for… But is this the right way to go? I have my doubts. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out, and if any other organisations take the initiative and try to capitalise on the pay walls being placed around this traditional form of media.