Blog Feature

By: Jennifer Devitt on June 22nd, 2014

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Should paywall protected media be shareable on social media?

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Digital news. It's still on the rise. Readers are getting their news via the internet, social media outlets and news sites or apps. Studies show that 50 percent of Americans prefer to get their news digitally. With the rise of mobile and tablet usage, the increase of people getting their news digitally is also on the rise. Many of these digital news sites are locked down by paywalls. Should paywall protected news be shared on social media?

Studies show that mobile devices and tablets, as well as news related apps, are increasing the time users spend reading the news. In 2012 a study showed that 43 percent of tablet users said their device increased the amount of news they consumed. Tablet users, for instance, read more in-depth articles digitally then they did in print. Millennials rely heavily on digital news. Studies show that they are 110 percent more likely to consume their news digitally.

With the rise of increased digital media came the rise of the "paywall". For some news outlets only certain stories are protected by paywalls, others anything past the first few sentences of a article require a login and paid subscription. New in some outlets are "metered paywall". A metered paywall allows a varying amount of free stories available per month before a paid subscription is required. Outlets like The New York Times and The Boston Globe utilize metered paywalls.

According to other statistics, 55 percent of Americans have a profile on a social media site. Take the 55 percent and the 110 percent of Millennials into account and you have monumental news sharing on social media. During emergencies or for breaking news, many turn to social media outlets for updates. During Hurricane Sandy, The New York Times suspended its paywall so that local residents could get up to the minute emergency news.

My question is this. Should news protected by a paywall be shareable on free social media sites? I for one find it totally frustrating to have articles in my Twitter feed only to click on it and then be asked to login or create a account or pay to read something that was shared on a free social network. I also feel that any type of community bulletins, emergency reports, etc should be readable free of charge. For instance, in Crystal Lake this weekend we had a triathlon that caused many traffic detours and delays. In order to read the alerts on the local paper they wanted me to either answer a bunch of silly questions, register or pay. I also find that many sites that are protected by paywalls are not always functioning. They can lock up browsers, have faulty search options, not work across all browsers or platforms. I believe that if you are charging for the online service your service should function and according to modern technology standards.

In the day of news related apps and tablets and mobile, readers are looking to have the news at their fingertips on any device they choose. In times of emergency it is essential to be able to get mobile alerts for hazardous weather, amber alerts or other security issues that are potential threats. I think that most news agencies do a good job of informing the public. However, today many journalists are getting their news sources via social media and then turning around and composing a piece for their outlet that requires you to pay to read it on a social network. I understand that these outlets need to make money but sharing on free sites should not be the answer. What are your news consumption habits. Do you get breaking news from Twitter or other social networks? Do you share media that requires someone else to login to read the content you shared?