Lionel Barber: Paid-for content will be the norm in 2010

“Almost all” news organisations will begin charging users for content within the next year, Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has predicted.

Speaking at a Media Standards Trust event at the British Academy last night, Barber warned that quality journalism would “wither” without new sources of revenue.

And he said news organisations needed to focus on what made them distinctive and find a charging model that worked – whether per-article payments or a subscription.

FT.com allows users to read a limited number of stories on the web as free “tasters”. If they exceed the limit, they are asked to subscribe.

Barber said the Financial Times was seeing “sustained and growing revenue” from this system of charging for premium, niche content.

“Many news organisations are following suit in charging, latterly the New York Times which had previously come down in favour of free access to its own content,” he said.

“How these online payment models work and how much revenue they can generate is still up in the air; but I confidently predict that within the next 12 months, almost all news organisations will be charging for content.”

Barber was speaking at the first in a series of Media Standards Trust events on “why journalism matters” in London last night. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger appears next week.

• Why journalism matters: Lionel Barber’s speech in full

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