As for my $100 million estimate, which is conservative, Buttry claims that he flat doesn’t buy it. Shock. But he also claims I haven’t showed my work. Well, here you go. You have to back into numbers sometimes, as I did a few months ago with Buttry’s bankrupt employer. We don’t just pull numbers out of our you-know-whats.

And he actually says this: “In fact, about the only people repeating the fiction that it’s tough to make money online are those in the newspaper business.”

Um, your own newspaper company is bankrupt.

Finally, apologies to all you regular Audit readers who find the paywall fight tedious. This would just be another edition of Someone Is Wrong On The Internet, but this is much more about what passes for argumentation about a critical subject. Besides, these fallacious arguments are having real consequences, all around the country.

The Washington Post listened for too long. Thankfully, it looks like it’s finally learned its lesson.

To give credit where it’s due, Buttry does attempt to offer what actually qualifies as evidence of his position.

He provides an anecdote from a paywall at a “small regional daily” that has garnered fewer than 300 subscribers in its first few months. Okay. But we’re not told anything about this paywall. Is it a hard and fast one like the Times of London? Is it a meter? How expensive is it? How good or bad is the paper it’s trying to sell?
If you want this anecdote to mean anything, much less disprove that newspapers “gain additional revenue through subscriptions and lose little if anything in digital ads” with modern paywalls, as I wrote, then you have to know all of these questions and more.
But hey, it’s a start.

(2:08 p.m. I added “modern” to paywall in the sixth paragraph above)

Further reading:

Anti-paywall dead-enders: Why worry about evidence when you can argue against straw men?

Owens’s straw man army. A commentator takes 10 swings at paywalls, and misses each time


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