ARTICLE: In online news, crime and sports are cheap

The websites of Norwegian newspapers offer high-traffic pieces for free, but charge for resource-intensive content, writes Helle Sjøvaag, of University of Bergen. Sjøvaag conducted parallel longitudinal researches on three newspapers’ websites in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The analysis is based on a little over 4 000 individual pieces.

The author compared the freely accessible contents to that behind a paywall on the websites of Aftenposten, Bergens Tidende and Stavanger Aftenblad. All three erected their paywalls during the period of observation. Of the papers Aftenposten doesn’t differentiate between free and paid content, but allows readers a set number of free articles per week. The other two offer most of their content for free, but hide premium content behind a subscription wall.

According to Sjøvaag’s analysis, the content of Aftenposten did not change after it implemented its metered paywall system. While the two others restrict the access to different proportions of their content (the percentage of paid content is 18 for BT and 34 SA), they share some similarities in restricted content types. For example, both prefer to restrict access to political, economic and social issue news rather than to crime, accident or sports news.

The results were published as an online-first article of the journal Journalism Practice, which can be accessed here (abstract public).

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