Online publishers are trying to figure out how they can afford to deliver quality digital journalism when so much content from competitors is available to consumers for free. Publishers have tried different experiments with paywalls over the years, some more successful than others. As explained in NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday on May 03, 2014, Slate was one of the first online magazines to try a pay wall in 1998, but the effort failed and they had to stop charging for content. David Folkenflik of NPR points out that Slate “can’t simply expect that online advertising and some of the revenue they get from their podcasts, from which they derive about 20 percent of their revenues, will be enough to sustain the journalism” people have come to expect from them.
In a new effort to earn money to run the site, Slate has launched Slate Plus, described on the site as “an all-access pass for readers who support our journalism and want a closer connection to it.” For $5 a month or $50 a year, members will have exclusive access to Slate writers, as well as access to private events, and enhanced podcasts. Articles will still be free to those who don’t sign up for Slate Plus, says Folkenflik. Jacob Weisberg, the chairman of the Slate Group, reportedly “wants readers of Slate to think of themselves as customers of Slate, or even as members of Slate.” It will be interesting to see if this model, akin to the way NPR funds its journalism, will work for Slate.
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