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Paywalls aren’t blocking access to high-quality news

Nobody can argue with a straight face that the legacy media is in a healthy state. According to one recent report, the industry just set a new record for the number of newsroom jobs cut in the first five months of a calendar year.


That’s a pretty downbeat newsletter opener from Simon Owens, but fear not, he bounces back with some optimism around business models. He points to general agreement that our industry has ‘a much stronger business foundation’ than it did a decade ago and says, most outlets are ‘squeezing’ more revenue from their online audiences than ever before.

While digital subscriptions are never a silver bullet, Simon says they have played a crucial role in slowing losses and funding important journalism. They have also given publishers a welcome route out of advertising and platform dependency. Against this backdrop, he questions the idea that shutting content behind a paywall is bad for democracy.

His counter argument is that paid content is not a new phenomena, but a deviation back to the norm. I largely agree with Simon: if all quality newspapers dropped their paywalls, it would make no difference whatsoever to huge sections of the online population. Low-quality news, from click-bait sensationalism to outright misinformation, is actually the biggest threat to high-quality news.


Instagram is rolling out its Channels feature for message broadcasting

Meta announced today that it’s rolling out Instagram’s Channels features for broadcasting messages globally.

Previously only available to a chosen few creators, Meta has announced that it’s rolling out Instagram’s Channels feature to everyone, everywhere. The feature lets users broadcast one-to-many messages, something that could prove interesting to publishers on the platform. All you need to do is get users to go to their DMs, find your channel and then sign up. Another excellent opportunity to distribute even more of your content in Zuck’s ecosystem. ????


Gimlet Media’s story was always going to end like this

Gimlet Media is basically dead. Last week, Spotify announced it was laying off 200 workers and combining Gimlet and Parcast.

Defector says it has been a slow and painful death for Gimlet since Spotify acquired it in 2019 for $200 million. From a racism scandal to the latest layoffs, the production company has fallen dramatically from the podcasting top spot. This piece documents its rise and fall through a familiar lense, the unsustainable race for growth triggered by VC investment.


The Guardian bans all gambling advertising

Ban will apply worldwide to all of media group’s online and print outlets, including the Guardian, Observer, and Guardian Weekly

I worked for a couple of gaming industry publications about 15 years ago, so maybe it’s hypocritical of me to applaud this move by the Guardian. It argues that it is banning gambling advertising in print and online, because it is unethical to take money from services that can lead to “addiction and financial ruin”. These days, I agree.

More from Media Voices


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Content is king? ‘Complete b*ll*cks; says media veteran Neil Thackray

If content was truly king, Neil believes the starting point would be a content-focused publishing strategy, but he doesn’t see that.


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