WSJ: Washington Post will launch a paywall in 2013, and raise newsstand paper price

The Washington Post is one of the last great old print newspapers to not charge readers for online access, but not for long.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that "while details are being finished, people familiar with the matter said that a metered paywall—meaning a website that allows casual readers to read a certain number of stories free before charging a subscription fee -- is likely to be rolled out in 2013, along with increases to the print newspaper's newsstand price."

The story is behind a paywall, natch.

In related news, The Daily Beast, which recently merged with Newsweek, is also considering a paywall.

The media company was founded by Tina Brown and is backed by billionaire Barry Diller.

The Post, the Beast, and Newsweek are all drowning in red ink.

The division of Diller's IAC that includes the Daily Beast lost $13.2 million last quarter. Newsroom employees there and at Newsweek newsrooms will lose their jobs today. Newsweek "was on track to lose $22 million this year before plans to close the print edition were announced," according to Bloomberg.

The Post's newspaper division reported an operating loss of $56.3 million for the first nine months of 2012, which amounts to a 14% drop in revenue.


  1. If the Post had not eviscerated their newsroom prior to setting up the paywall, this might have a shot at working.  However, unfortunately for those of us who grew up in DC and thought of DC as a world-class newspaper, there’s not much value add from the Post these days relative to numerous free local blogs and other news sources.  Really the only newspaper worth paying for IMO is the Times, and its worth paying for because they continue to invest a massive amount in their reporting and hold themselves to high standards of journalism.

    1. It would have been even better if they had not spent a decade chasing the same audience of conspiracy nuts as the Washington Times, which bled about half a BILLION dollars in Moonie money and had the same circulation as the Blade (DC’s gay weekly).

      The proof of how far they fell was the way they buried the Hookergate scandal in 2006.  The #1 and #3 guys at the CIA resigned and Congressman Duke Cunninghame went to federal prison in this bribery and prostitution scandal.  And in all their breathless coverage of the Patreas affair and reviews of previous DC scandals they still ignore Hookergate! The house of the #3 guy at the CIA was searched by the FBI for christs sake.

  2. “Call me a contrarian on this one. But I don’t buy all the hype that the internet is even the primary culprit of the demise of journalism. The primary culprit is the same as it is all over the country, in every industry and in government: equity extraction.

    That is what has happened to the news industry in America. The excessive obsession with unnaturally high profits has led to a vicious circle of cutting budgets, providing less services, which is then followed by even more drastic cuts. ”

    1. Wow.  I never thought about that.  I’ve been buying the internet story all along, but that really makes sense.

      I lived in Philly while the Inky went under in slow motion, and I was surprised by how Brian Tierny didn’t seem to be shopping at Salvation Army.

  3. The Post really insulted the readers when they eliminated Book World.  If you want customers who read, why cut Book World?  It’s not as if people wouldn’t have provided the reviews for next to nothing. 

    Also, the pay wall is a bad idea for the Post which can’t help suffering from inside-the-beltway myopia. I guess they are tired of having their editorial columns attracting thousands of comments telling them that they have their head up their ass. 

    But I’ll also predict the they will still get comments from the half dozen complete lunatics, mutant shut-ins, and crazy cat ladies. And around the midterms, the comments seem to be boiler room operations staffed by interns cutting and pasting thousands of canned comments under one user name. 

    1. Thank you, I thought I was the only one who couldn’t believe they cut Book World. They bury occasional book reviews where you don’t know where they’ll be, sometimes in the now almost worthless style section, they reduced the travel section to a little joke, they give away a far inferior snarky little USA Today-like product (the Express) on every street corner for free, further undermining their print sales. In their attempts to appear nonpartisan (which is never going to work), they fail to call out Republicans when they lie, yet they are probably a little too hard on liberals–but it doesn’t work, because from the comments section you see that those on the right hate them as a liberal paper no matter what they say.

      They are a confused paper. I doubt their paywall is going to work. Now that they’ve cut so much, if you have to pay for your news, you’re going to go to the NYT, not the Post. We still get the Sunday print paper; perhaps that will come with online access. (Obviously I think there is still value in local newspapers.)

      1. So much of the conservative movement is built around grudges and obsessive hatred – they will never forgive the post for Watergate.

        It’s the same way with CNN whose ratings plunged as they went Fox-lite. Fox viewers hate CNN because 20 years ago it was owned by Ted Turner who used to be married to Jane Fonda who went to North Vietnam 40 years ago, so they hate CNN now and they’ll hate CNN 100 years from now no matter how many times it changes ownership. 

    1.  My favorite fact about the Times paywall is the Times considers it to be revenue neutral – that is, it doesn’t even add any financial benefit. They just added it because …?

  4. I gave up on the Post a decade ago when the opinion section was largely turned over to Iraq War supporting neocons.  Some “liberal media” bastion.

  5. “The Prince of Pompadoodle
    Lived behind a castle wall,
    Behind a moat, behind a guard
    Of twenty soldiers tall.”

    “The Prince of Pompadoodle
    May hoard each empty hour,
    But none can know; no word comes from
    The silent stony tower.”

    Walt Kelly, 1957

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