Almost six out of 10 journalists and business leaders believe that some form of paywall is the best strategy for news organisations online, a new poll has found.
YouGov questioned 739 people from its "opinion formers panel" – people from the worlds of journalism, business, politics and non-governmental organisations – in research unveiled at the London Press Club last night.
Some 56 per cent of respondents said paid-for digital content was the likeliest model to secure a "sustainable long-term option for the UK digital news market".
Of these, three-quarters said soft or metered payrolls – allowing some limited access to free content – were the best option. The remaining quarter preferred the "hard paywall" approach where everything is locked away.
Half of those surveyed believed that consumers who access news sites via paywalls are more valuable than free users – and that news organisations are therefore justified in charging premium rates for ads behind paywalls.
However, YouGov found that only one in three people think that payrolls "will be profitable enough to be commercially sustainable in current global market conditions where free quality digital news content remains widely available".
The survey was commissioned ahead of a debate on the same topic held at the British Library and organised by the London Press Club.
At the debate News UK chief marketing officer Katie Vanneck Smith said an online paywall was “the right and only strategy if you are talking about professional, sustainable journalism”.
The next London Press Club debate is at 6.30pm on 14 April on “After Leveson – is there a future for the Press?” The panel includes Sun managing editor Stephen Abell, Mail columnist Simon Heffer, Telegraph deputy editor Liz Hunt and Press Club chairman and Evening Standard, Independent and i managing editor Doug Wills. It is being held at Stationers’ Hall near St Paul’s.