I'm a web-prowler, always looking for articles that might interest me or, better yet, readers of this blog. Increasingly, especially since January of this year, I'm kept out of news sites by cash walls (the Daily News just implemented one, which I encountered today and which prompted this post).
It costs money to pay reporters and, though few remain, editors, so of course newspapers want to recoup those costs — if they don't, they'll go out of business, and that will be the end of that. Major papers offer enough value to entice some readers to pay several hundred dollars a year for their content. I won't pay a dime to the NYT or WaPo, but, until last week, I forked over the dough for the WSJ, but I'm not willing to subscribe to an obscure Iowa paper, at $99 a year, or the Bangor Daily News, or anything called "the Sentinel" anywhere in the country, just to read a single article.
So here's my suggestion: (someone) sell a passport where, for some price: $50? $100?, per year, readers would be allowed a gate through these cash walls. News outlets that signed up for the program wouldn't get their desired $99 revenue, but they'd receive some payment for their individual articles, and something is better than nothing. As it is, they get nothing: internet visitors hit the pay wall and click forward to the next site.
I'm no business man, sadly, but I think there's a business model that could make this work, maybe.
You geniuses out there, have at it. Please.