Putting COVID-19 resource sections prominently on your site and in front of any paywall you might have seems to be a win-win-win proposition at this point. On Saturday Stephanie Williford, CEO of SIPA member EB Medicine, posted this on the Discussion Forum in response to an article about a subscription jump at Wired.
"We put our COVID content in front of the paywall on March 3rd and have seen an explosion in website traffic (153% increase) and a modest increase in subscriptions (9%) since the same time period last year," wrote Williford. "We're pretty happy with that all things considered—particularly since our customers (emergency physicians) are the ones on the frontlines managing this crisis. (They certainly have much bigger things to worry about right now than subscribing!) We also think the goodwill and brand awareness we're generating now will pay off in the long run. Plus, like the article below says, it was the right thing to do."
"I've been arguing for a long time that we will be saved as an institution by bearing down on quality, quality, quality. Just do the most deeply reported, beautifully written, carefully edited, fact-checked, copyedited, and beautifully designed stories — and the reader will come. They want to be supportive and they want access. And it turns out to be true. Thank God for it."
That comes from a NiemanLab story this week about The Atlantic adding 36,000 new subscribers in the last four weeks, according to a staff email from editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg. The surge happened, "even as we lifted paywall restrictions on our coronavirus coverage," Goldberg wrote. (There has been a separate discussion taking place whether publishers should be "noble" and lift any paywalls on their coronavirus reporting or treat it like any other special reporting they do and charge accordingly. Poynter has a column strongly promoting the latter here.)
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