CEO: WaPo Looking At Every Kind Of Paywall
Donald Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Co. admitted the company is studying newspaper paywalls, trying to find a model that would fit the Post, he said during a session at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.
“We are obviously looking at paywalls of every type. But the reason we haven’t adopted one yet is that we haven’t found one that actually adds to profits,” Graham said. “But we are going to continue to study every model of paywall and think about that, as well as think about keeping it free.”
Graham in the past has insisted publicly that a paywall would not work for the Post.
During today’s session he said the Post’s metro footprint — with print circulation being primarily local, while 90% of its digital audience is from outside the Washington are — puts a paywall on the digital product “on a different footing.” Graham said that a firm paywall would drive away some of the paper’s digital audience, and losing that audience would drive advertisers away and sap what he called “a very significant amount of digital advertising.”
But the Post last month hired Marty Baron, editor of The Boston Globe, as its new executive editor. At the Globe, Baron presided over the newspaper’s switch to a two-site strategy: keeping its free site Boston.com while launching BostonGlobe.com as a paywalled premium site. The hire has raised speculation about the Post possibly adopting the strategy.