Topic – Technology – Newspaper Paywalls

Faced with falling circulation figures because of widespread free news options on the Internet and the rise of free newspapers in major cities, newspapers are worried about attracting sufficient advertising revenues and are looking at new ways of boosting their income.  One method is to make readers pay for online content.

The New York Times recently announced that it would be reintroducing a paywall for its online content.  Here is a link to a text which reports on this decision and some listening/reading/reaction activities.

New York Times Introduces Metered Online Paywall

Listening activity:  This news report gives details of how the paywall will work and opinions on the idea from media professionals. 

(a) Listen from the beginning to about 1 min 25 secs.  Make notes on how the system will work.

(b)  Match the opinions below to four of the speakers you hear (the options are not in the order that they come in in the text):

Speakers:   Janet Robinson, Arthur Sulzburger Jr., Jim Moroney, Emily Bell.


  1. The biggest challenge facing the New York Times will be that it is not unique in the range of its coverage.
  2. These days, people are open to the idea of paying for digital media that they regard as relevant and worthwhile.
  3. Newspapers have to cater to readers’ tastes which means making content available across a variety of media platforms.
  4. It’s unfortunate that paywalls are widely considered to be best means of generating income for newspapers in the digital age.
  5. Income generated from the paywall will enable the NYT to provide broader content than competitors who are cutting back on resources.
  6. Examination of the effects of paywalls on newspapers shows paywalls speed up the downfall of newspapers. 

Answers to (a) – check the accompanying article:  (

(b)  1:  Jim Moroney, 2:  Arthur Sulzburger Jr., 3:  Janet Robinson,  4:  Emily Bell, 5:  Arthur Sulzburger Jr., 6:  Emily Bell.

If you are doing the Proficiency exam, notice how the options 1-5 try to paraphrase what the speakers actually say.  This is one of the skills tested in the Use of English summary task (part 5) and the sentence transformations (part 4).  Examples:  (Option 1) ‘The biggest challenge facing the New York Times will be that it is not unique in the range of its coverage.’  Moroney:  It’s difficult because the NYT “is in a business of producing a lot of content that a lot of other media purveyors are…are providing, whether they’re cable networks, whether they’re other national printed publications…”  (3:11 – 3:29).

Vocabulary:  Here are some useful words, collocation and expressions from the written text version of the story:  Find any unfamiliar words or expressions on the page (you could use the “find on this page” function on your browser) and see if you can work out the meaning from the context.

  • unveiling
  • embrace (an approach)
  • (something) won’t count against (someone)
  • (have) longed for years to (do something) (to long for something/to long to do something)
  • a tortuous path
  • scrapped (to scrap something)
  • bristled at (the idea of doing something) (to bristle at the idea of doing something)
  • stringent
  • Conventional wisdom says…
  • plummeted
  • question that logic (to question the logic of something)
  • overwhelming majority of (visitor readers) / people
  •  to hasten
  • (readers might find it) off-putting
  • pursuing (an online) business strategy

Reaction:  So, what do you think?  Do you get your news fix online or via printed versions?  Would you be willing to pay for news content via digital subscription?  What else could newspapers do to safeguard their future?


Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Professional English, C2.2 - Topics, C2.2 - Vocabulary, Topic - Technology

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s