The introduction of paywalls by Postmedia comes as no surprise as the newspaper industry continues to struggle within a competitive market. Here’s a recent quote from the company’s COO, Wayne Parrish:
“We’re no longer in the business of chasing page views from all over the globe…We’re in the business of trying to provide deep, rich experiences for those who value the content that we focus on, which is local content and Canadian content.”
Included behind this paywall barrier is the Edmonton Journal, who now asks readers to pay about $10 a month, or $100 for the year. If you’re a regular reader, it could make sense. But what doesn’t make sense is the Edmonton Journal putting their Cult of Hockey blog behind the paywall as well.
The Cult of Hockey does a pretty good job providing hockey analytics to supplement the rest of the Edmonton Journal’s sports section. Both Jonathan Willis and Bruce McCurdy, excellent writers who started off as independent bloggers, have done extensive work not only collecting and analyzing data, but also contributing to the greater body of work compiled by the Oilers’ online fan community.
A blog format, with its open access and ability to link to the work of others, is ideal for hockey analytics. Any sort of data analytics benefits significantly from open participation, especially hockey analytics. Blogs are also an excellent way to link to the work of others, strengthen communication networks and continuously build information and knowledge. Up until last week when the paywall was announced, the Cult of Hockey did this pretty well.
With a paywall blocking their content, the Cult of Hockey can no longer benefit from the key traits of blogs. They’ve essentially added a barrier for people to access their content, but will continue getting free access to the work of others. That really isn’t a fair deal, and I can’t imagine this ending well for the relationship between Cult of Hockey and other Oiler blogs. The Cult of Hockey is also setting a price for it’s own work, giving a sense that it is disconnected from the rest of the blogging community, who it has always benefited from. One can expect that other blog sites, whose ideas will be used on the Cult of Hockey blog, may ask Postmedia for some sort of reimbursement, which will have a negative impact on the development of hockey analytics. There’s a good reason why Wikipedia has not asked for its users to pay a price for content/information built and extended by volunteers.
For the sake of the writers of the blog, and for the benefit of hockey analytics, I hope Postmedia considers removing the paywall blocking the Cult of Hockey.