In a video interview with paidContent, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg says supports training readers to pay for content when its delivered in a “specific, convenient, dedicated form” (like the iPhone) and keeping websites free.
He also looks back on the site’s bad old days behind a pay wall:
I think it was the worst year at Slate. Luckily it’s 12 years in the past now; we got it out of our system early. The problem was–and this was in 1998–that we had 20,000 paid subscribers to Slate, right away, paying $20 a year. Which for 1998 was pretty impressive…. But that meant the maximum readership for anything was 20,000 people. And it was a tough year for the writers, because they went from having a growing audience and starting to feel like the web was working in terms of reaching to people you wanted to reach to suddenly feeling like you’re writing for a very small group of people.
Weisberg does note, however, that those early subscribers received a Slate umbrella. How NPRish!
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