I finally have the answer as to whether I would pay for news on the web, and the answer is yes. Last night after reading the 5th zero content vapid gadget news story that was front page content on wired.com, I realized how much I really appreciate the quality bar that’s been set over at Ars Technica.
While most web outlets seem to be degrading in the content they put out there, Ars seems to just be getting better. They have some quite in depth writing on most of the science and tech space, and aren’t afraid to dive deep into subjects with original research, not just falling back on the lazy opinion model that most others have. I also realized that while not having wired around would mean nothing to me, loosing Ars would be something I’d actually really miss.
Ars’s pay model is simple. If you by a premier account ($50 / year, so roughly magazine cost), you stop being presented with ads on their site, you get access to stories slightly ahead of the public site, and you get personalized rss feeds which provide full stories (their free rss gives you just the first 2 or 3 paragraphs). There are some other benefits, but the full rss and just knowing I’m helping to keep Ars around is what I care about.
That second point is key. If the news industry wants people to actually pay for things, they need to stop racing to the bottom on cost, and start racing to the top on quality.