Beyond the paywall: A future for quality journalism, City Uni - 9 May

Beyond the paywall – How are we going to be pay for quality journalism in a digital world?

9 May, City University, 7pm start – Geordie Greig, Stevie Spring, Dan Sabbagh, Dominic Young, Katie Vanneck-Smith- chaired by Dominic Ponsford.

In a fascinating column for the next issue of Press Gazette magazine – Peter Kirwan notes that the “mood music” around paywalls is changing a year after the Times paywall was built.

Back then Guardian director of digital content Emily Bell condemned them as “a stupid idea” – but last week Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “I am not the Taleban of anti-charging”.

The Telegraph, previously considered part of the free-to-air camp, is looking at metered access from September.

Even the all-conquering Mail Online – which according to Comscore is now the second most popular English-speaking newspaper website in the world – is looking at signing up to the Google One Pass digital payment system.

So what better time to debate what is still the existential question facing journalism – to charge or not to charge online? And to see if we can come up with some other ideas for supporting quality journalism in a largely digital world.

That’s why Press Gazette has teamed up with the journalism department at City University in London to organise a one-off Question Time-style debate at 6.30pm on 9 May with a stellar panel of speakers.

I’ll be chairing it. The panellists are:

Geordie Greig – the editor of the Evening Standard who has led what may be the greatest comeback in journalistic history. His free Evening Standard is said to be at around break-even and appears to prove both that print has a great future and that a purely free model can support quality editorial.

Stevie Spring – the chief executive of Future Publishing led the company from losses of more than £12m five years ago to comfortable profitability, while the rest of the industry has headed in the other direction. This has been helped by the launch of a variety of successful websites and apps published in association with Future’s various specialist magazine titles.

Guardian media editor Dan Sabbagh. Having done five years as media editor at The Times, then had a hand in launching successful media blog Beehive City, he is uniquely well-placed to talk about paywall strategies at The Guardian, Times and elsewhere and to look at the bigger picture.

Former director of strategy and product development for News International Dominic Young. The architect of The Times paywall and founder of his own media consultancy Ytrium.

News International head of marketing Katie Vanneck-Smith- one of the key executives driving the paywall strategy.

Click here on the City University website to secure your free place for Beyond the Paywall.

If you would like to suggest a question for the panellists, comment on this blog post or email me at dominicp@pressgazette.co.uk.

Here is a map for the event at the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, City University,Northampton Square, London – 9 May, 6.30pm.

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Beyond the paywall: A future for quality journalism, City Uni – 9 May

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