Before the Internet, news orgs had a natural paywall, the distribution system. If you wanted to read the paper you had to buy the paper. And the ink, and the gasoline it took to get it to where you are. In fact, everything that determined the structure of the news activity, that made it a business, was organized around the distribution system.
But that’s been over now for quite some time. And paywalls express a desperate wish to go back to a time when there was a reason to pay. Now news, if it wants to continue, must find a new reason.
Scripting News: Paywalls are backward-looking. Paywalls are indeed backward-looking, but the idea that “distribution systems” are “over” is obviously silly. I don’t need a gassed-up car to get my copy of the Times, but I sure need electricity, and wired or wireless internet access, and an internet-capale device, and an enormous and enormously complex routing system to get data from its source to my device. We’re more dependent on “distribution systems” than we ever have been; they’re just different systems than they used to be.