The End of the Publishing Industry as we Know it Today

Father reading the print edition of a news journal has been a scene we have often seen in real life and in movies. Yet thanks to current technologies, this scene might soon come to an end.

The digital revolution has impacted every aspect of our life and almost every domain. In the publishing and broadcasting in particular, digitisation has changed the way we create, consume and share information.


The mobile trigger

The adoption of mobile technologies, such as tablets and smartphones, has enabled faster and more convenient access and sharing of information than ever before. While this meant more traffic to a newspaper’s website it has also impacted the print edition, explaining why publications have recorded a dramatic fall in the number of print sales.

Due to the current financial plummet, the digital era has also necessitated publishers to adapt digital monetisation strategies in order to increase their revenue. One of the most well known strategies is the paywall.

Meet the paywall

The earliest pioneer of paywall solutions in the publishing industry was The Wall Street Journal. Their type of paywall was inflexible, not allowing access to readers unwilling to pay for content. This was the hard paywall. This paywall strategy has been successful for B2B news publishers, such as the FT, and other niche products with a specialised readership demographic.

The new digitisation wave soon impacted the development of paywalls themselves. The hard paywall was emulated unsuccessfully by a wave of B2C publishers, leading to the development of more porous, soft/metered paywalls.

While a hard paywall only allows you to access its content after you have paid for it, a porous, soft/metered paywall will give you the opportunity to read a certain number of articles in a defined period of time. Only after you have had a full demonstration of the experience are you asked to pay. The number of articles viewed by the reader can vary from one publisher to another. An example of metered/soft paywalls can be seen at the New York Times, which allows you to read 10 articles/month before asking you to pay.

Paywalls have continuously evolved since their conception: from hard to soft, metered or porous. Its latest 2.0 version, has changed their main focus from only monetising content to instead increasing the quality of the media brand’s engagement with their customer.

The place you’re likely to meet a paywall

Although statistics differ from one continent to another, there has been constant growth in the number of publications that have adopted monetisation strategies.

In America more than 20% of the journals have erected a paywall, while in the UK, the latest to adopt such monetisation strategies was the Telegraph Media Group.

In Central Europe, however, things move a bit slower. There have been rumours about La Repubblica, Italy’s most circulated journal, to implement a paywall strategy yet nothing has been confirmed.

In Africa, BDFM have been the first to implement metered paywall strategies. Several local newspapers, such as Die Burger, Beeld and Volksblad, followed suit not long after.

Further changes

The digital revolution has undoubtedly triggered a wide range of changes in the publishing industry.

The fact that publishers ask their customers to pay for the content they consume has a definite advantage: a higher standard of journalism with better quality and coverage.

On the other hand such changes might result in an increase within the digital divide. Moreover, the gap between poor and rich is also likely to further increase.


The digital revolution is very likely to change the publishing industry as we know it. When and where in the world will we see such changes occur?

As the speakers at both TV Connect and NAB show mentioned when talking about monetisation strategies, we don’t know what the future will bring.

In essence, publishers and broadcasters can’t be held back by established ways of doing things. They need to evolve at the same fast pace as digital technology in order to keep abreast with their customers.

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