It's happening: The Washington Post is putting up an online paywall.
Well, not so much a "paywall" as a "paymeter." You can read 20 articles a month for free. According to traffic data, most of you don't read 20 articles a month. (Side note: What's wrong with you?)
And even some of you who read those 20 articles and more will be exempt. "Students, teachers, school administrators, government employees and military personnel who sign on from their schools or workplaces" will still get free access. And if you come in through a Facebook or Twitter link, it doesn't count toward your 20 articles. I imagine there will turn out to be some other backdoors, as well. But otherwise, it's $9.99 a month.
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I think the content we produce at The Post and at Wonkblog is worth something. I hope you do, too.
On the other, it hasn't cost anything until now, and people have become used to not paying for our online content. We're now asking you to pay for something that has been free. I think there needs to be something on the other side of that equation: We should be able to tell you that you'll be getting more, too.
And we can say that. There are a number of exciting things going on at The Washington Post, and we at Wonkblog have been very busy. In the coming weeks and months, Wonkblog will be announcing a couple of big new projects and some exciting additions to our staff. Six months from now, we're going to be offering you a lot more than we are today. If you're a regular reader, I think it will be worth paying for.