Guardian reader members club not a 'stupid' pay wall

The Guardian is considering charging for some of its online content via a new ‘members club’for readers.

It has sent a survey out to registered online readers to ask them what would entice them to sign up to such a club – which would carry an annual or monthly fee.

According to the survey ‘benefits might include, for example, a welcome pack, exclusive content, live events, special offers from our partners and the opportunity to communicate with our journalists”.

The club would, the survey says, be put in place to ‘support the Guardian financially”.

Guardian director of digital content Emily Bell told the blog Liberal Conspiracy, which broke the story: ‘No, we are not contemplating a pay wall, nor as far as I’m concerned would we ever. They are a stupid idea in that they restrict audiences for largely replicable content.

“Murdoch no doubt will find this out – even rudimentary math suggests he will struggle with a completely free model to meet advertising revenue levels across the NI offerings.

‘We are obviously looking at other methods of diversifying revenues, so this might well be where some of the confusion has arisen. I don’t know how many times or how clearly I can say we won’t be charging for content on the site, but we won’t.

‘Only six months ago we removed the last remaining pay wall from web content – that around our crosswords! Our strategy is entirely around reach and audience engagement – both of which would be irreparably damaged by pay walls.”

However, back in May her boss Carolyn McCall told a conference that there were parts of, such as Media Guardian, where “we should think about how we should charge for content”.

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