This bit here resonates with me, though:

We’ve kept the faith with readers despite dreadful economic convulsions. We’ve prudently managed to do more with less, staff streamlined via generous buyout packages, more resources poured into the online version of the paper, reporters multitasking to produce video, blog, tweet, while still filing the regular quota of stories. We’re all, in a way, radio reporters today, banging off copy for the web on quick turnaround deadlines, updating.

That’s the Hamster Wheel playing out in real life. The productivity imperatives imposed by digital logic and media disruption have fallen, more than anywhere, on working newsrooms to a degree that is not fully appreciated, except by, well, the Federal Communications Commission.

A paywall might be a means to slow the wheel a bit, especially if subscription revenue turns out to be more valuable than digital ads and the quality imperative takes hold. As Doctor says, under the paywall/membership system, “content counts more than ever.”

As I say, a paywall is not an end. It’s really a beginning, a chance for a new start. But it’s only a chance. Combativeness toward critics is okay; belligerence is probably not. There’s no template for being great. The Toronto Star will have to find its own way. But it starts with an attitude, and it’s the “We’ve kept the faith with readers” idea that will make the paywall work.

h/t Jay Rosen via Dan Gillmor.


Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.