“We are very concerned,” Señor tells me on the phone from Los Angeles, “that everybody looks at the Guardian’s success in terms of volume of traffic. That is not a measure of success, because you might as well get into pornography. They’ve played the volume game all along. Open does not need to mean free, but the Guardian associates both things and is almost dogmatic about it, saying that if you put up paywalls you are somehow betraying the spirit of the web. There are Talibans on each side and that’s what is hurting the industry. Both extremes are wrong because they do not make money - the Times with its paywall and the Guardian being free. The truth is somewhere in the middle.” He points to the New York Times, and to Aftonbladet, a Swedish paper that has been charging online since 2003 and, he says, has just reached the point where digital brings in more money than print. “While I love the Guardian’s journalism at times, I just don’t think it’s sustainable. They’re announcing even more lay-offs, it’s a tragedy. And then they spend the money on the Three Little Pigs.”

The caveat is that the paper charges for its mobile apps.


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.