In a recent column Wendy Metcalfe, vice president of content and editor-in-chief at Hearst Connecticut Media Group, declared “Public-service journalism, which results in societal good or change, runs deep in our veins.”
The context was in relation to staff coverage of the Coronavirus crisis including the Connecticut Post, one of the media organization’s properties.
Except this so-called “public-service journalism” comes with a price tag that many other media giants have suspended: a subscription paywall.
State Rep. Chris Rosario, who’s East Side/Hollow constituency is among the poorest in the state and relies on critical information, says Hearst should show leadership in what the paper declares a pandemic.
“At a time when information sharing is critical to the overall public health, I am disappointed that Hearst has not suspended the paywall practice,” said Rosario in a statement. “Other media outlets such as the Hartford Courant, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are providing free access and I ask Hearst to reconsider allowing open communications during this crisis.”
A story in Adweek suggests digital outlets removing paywalls during a crisis may build more readers as a result of goodwill
“This is a public health emergency. If we have information that’s important for people to read, I’m not sure how ethical it would be to keep that from them if they didn’t give me their credit card,” Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, told Adweek, noting that the outlet made some coronavirus coverage available for free on Tuesday. “We didn’t go into journalism to sell subscriptions. We went in, with any luck, to inform and enlighten the public. And help people.”
…The move very well may be good for business.
“Offering free information on the coronavirus offers an opportunity to reach new customers [and] readers, who may stick with the publication afterward and perhaps be willing to pay later if they are impressed by the content,” said Tom Meyvis, professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.