Elon Musk announced on Saturday an innovative approach for his Twitter platform, allowing media publishers to charge readers on a per-article basis through a single click. The billionaire entrepreneur asserted that this move could be a major win-win for media organizations and the public alike.
According to Musk, this new feature would allow users who would not typically subscribe monthly to pay a higher price per article for occasional reading.
However, Musk remained reticent regarding pricing details and what share of revenue Twitter would take. This move has come at a challenging time as Musk is attempting to make Twitter profitable amidst frequent controversies.
In recent years, media companies have struggled to establish subscription models to cover operating costs, while readers have become accustomed to consuming news content free-of-charge.
The micro-payment approach Musk proposes raises many questions, given that others have failed to make it work. Journalist James Ball listed various issues in the Columbia Journalism Review, noting that many readers would click away when encountering a paywall. He also highlighted that publishers vastly prefer full-time subscribers, who generate far more ad revenue than the sale of single articles, which bring in around 20 cents.
Twitter users raised further concerns. They argued that a per-article approach could encourage clickbait, favor big publishers over small ones, and questioned whether authors, rather than news organizations, would see any profits.
Nonetheless, some Twitter users reacted positively to the announcement, praising the idea as a means to gain access to articles without committing to a subscription. Author Carlos Gil tweeted that this new approach was the perfect solution to enjoy articles à la carte without feeling as if readers are buying an overpriced stadium beer. User Greg Autry also expressed his support, stating that this was the right solution, as it would allow his followers to access his work without being forced to subscribe to publications such as Forbes, Foreign Policy, and Ad Astra.
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