In London overnight, The Telegraph Media Group revealed it was abandoning its high paywall going for a combination of open access for standard news and coverage and a premium paywalled area where the papers’ special features, columnists and other sections would be located. The Telegraph abandoned its paywall a year after News Corp’s The Sun did, and recorded a surge in traffic (and the loss of 20 print subeditors). The Sun also revealed this week that the special short Snapchat edition it is now producing daily is getting a million readers. The new paywall arrangement started overnight at the Telegraph — it means roughly 85% of the content will be free, with 15% inside a non-porous paywall (you can’t use the wiping the cookies trick to access it, as you could with the old model). This is a push that acknowledges that readers want (and will have to pay for) exclusive comment, but not news. It will also raise the competition for well known names in commentary and analysis — writers who are known drawcards for readers.
The Telegraph is profitable — in 2015 it made profits of 51 million pounds on flat revenue of 319 million pounds. But its owners, the billionaire recluse Barclay brothers, wrote down the value of the paper by a third or 150 million pounds. The Telegraph went through the now customary review earlier this year that saw coverage altered, staff leave, offices space cutback and costs cut. — Glenn Dyer