Sorry, we could not find the combination you entered »
Please enter your email and we will send you an email where you can pick a new password.
Reset password:


Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - April 2020

Why is it important that we do not give news away for free during a crisis?

One of the topics that many people are discussing is whether newspapers should give away their news for free during a crisis (or just in general).

I have talked about this a lot on Twitter, but I want to give you a more in-depth look at the reasons why this is important not to do, specifically from a trend perspective.

Mind you, my concern here isn't about the short-term. In the short-term, giving your news away for free can be quite useful. It brings in a lot of traffic, it shows that you care and that you take on the role of protecting and informing society, and if done right, it can even give people a sense of appreciation that may lead to even stronger loyalty and support.

A simple example of this is from my own local newspaper. During the current crisis (COVID-19), it has made their coverage free, but added a notice that they are doing it to help, with a message that if people want to support them, they can subscribe.

And the result has been remarkable. Not only are they providing the news for free, but they have maintained the same level of new subscribers as before, and now it is from an audience who are subscribing with a greater feeling of support.

This is great. It's exactly the type of subscribers that you want! Their new subscribers aren't just randomly looking for news, they are actively choosing to support their local newspaper and their work.

I mean... wow!!

So, in the short-term, I have no problem with any of this. It sounds great, it delivers real results, and everyone is cheering!

My concern, however, is about the long-term, and how people change their overall behavior and expectations around news.

You see, if you only do this once, you get the result I talk about above. But if you do it over and over again, people no longer think about it as something special. Instead, it becomes what people expect you to do. It's suddenly the "new normal".

And this is what I'm seeing as a media analyst.

Over the past year, we have seen many events that have caused publishers to open up their paywalls and give away the news for free. Not just in relation to a specific crisis, but also whenever something else of importance might have happened.

The result is that we are teaching people that, whenever something important happens, the news is free. We are teaching people that this is just something that they should expect.

This 18 page report is exclusive for subscribers. (login)

Try it free for one week

Register to try out Baekdal Plus completely for free for one week.

for just...
for just...
You get two months for free


Baekdal Plus is your premium destination for trends and analysis for the media industry. Every year you get 25 reports about the future media trends, business and editorial strategies, monetization analysis and insights about how to use analytics specifically for publishers.

As a subscriber, you also get full access to all the Plus reports (more than 200) published over the past 8 years, as well as the ability to share what you read.

I'm a company, can we pay via an invoice?

Yes, of course, please write to and I will send you a regular invoice that you can pay via your bank. I will need your company name, address and VAT number (if within the EU). Also, please note that due to this process being manual, this will be for an annual subscription only.

Is there an Enterprise Plan?

Yes, please write to for details. But for 25-99 users: the price is 20% off the subscription price ($79/year per user), 100+ users is a fixed price at $5,000 (for all combined).

Can you create a report just for us?

Yes, please head over to Baekdal Media to read about consulting where I can help you with strategy reviews, trend and strategy reports, and strategic guidance for you media company or a specific publication.



The Baekdal Plus Newsletter is the best way to be notified about the latest media reports, but it also comes with extra insights.

Get the newsletter

Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


—   monetization   —


Guide to magazines doing advertising behind a paywall


How to design a cheaper news product?


In-depth media analysis: What should we do with media bundles?


Don't sell magazines. Sell what is in them


Why advertising and subscriptions are so hard to mix, but not impossible


How much should a newspaper or magazine cost? It's not the price that defines it