The New York Times paywall may have grabbed all the headlines over the past month, but the real story in online journalism appears to have been buried beneath the fold: It turns out small newspapers are taking the lead in charging for online content.
The University of Missouri School of Journalism recently interviewed hundreds of daily newspaper publishers and found that 46 percent of papers with a circulation under 25,000 per week say they charge for at least some of their online content. By contrast, only a quarter (24 percent) of newspapers with a circulation of more than 25,000 charge for any content.
If one of those is your hometown rag, don't get complacent just
“Usually, you think the big boys will lead the way,” says the j-school's Michael Jenner. “There was so much build-up to The New York Times’ pay model and when they finally rolled it out a lot of people in the industry were watching that. But it wasn’t like the smaller newspapers were waiting for the Times to get its act together ... Small papers are more nimble.”