Now in the News: At The Batavian, An Innovative Paywall Gives Subscribers A Four-Hour Head Start

May 12, 2023

At The Batavian, An Innovative Paywall Gives Subscribers A Four-Hour Head Start

Now, here’s an interesting idea. The Batavian, a for-profit digital news outlet located in Genesee County, in western New York, has begun charging readers who want to see stories as soon as they’re posted. Others have to wait four hours.

In a press release posted by the trade publication Editor & Publisher, Howard Owens, who has led The Batavian since its founding nearly 15 years ago, explained that the website has begun charging $8 a month, or $80 a year, for subscribers who don’t want to put up with the four-hour delay. He calls it an “Early Access Pass,” and he writes:

I’m not aware of any other news publication using a similar reader-revenue model. For 15 years, our news site has been supported by more than 150 locally owned businesses, and we had an obligation to our fellow small business owners to ensure The Batavian remains the first stop in our community for local news. A paywall like many newspaper sites erect would kill site traffic, but with this model, we anticipate our program will keep our market-dominating traffic numbers high.

In a post at The Batavian, Owens says that the Early Access Pass is off to a fast start. He quotes one couple who told him: “We believe that being connected to local news is important for a healthy community. Knowing what’s happening in our own backyards helps raise awareness of events that we can have an effect on. We appreciate having an unbiased news source, and that is still free for our neighbors who may frequently face difficult financial choices.

Threatened To Withdraw News Content In Canada If A Bill Requiring Internet Firms To Pay News Publishers Is Passed


• The proposed legislation, called the Online News Act, would require platforms like Meta and Google to negotiate and pay Canadian publishers for their news content.

• The act seeks to establish a “fair revenue sharing” system between news outlets and digital platforms, which would negotiate the deals “when they profit from their work,” said Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez.

• If the legislation were to pass in its current form, Meta would withdraw news content from Instagram and Facebook in Canada, Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg said in a statement.

• Clegg described the bill as “fundamentally flawed” and criticized Canada’s attempt to “put a price on free links to web pages.”

• The executive also canceled his appearance at a Canadian House of Commons committee today after the title of the session was changed to focus on “Tech Giants’ Current and Ongoing Use of Intimidation and Subversion Tactics to Evade Regulation in Canada and Across the World.”

Zoom out:

• In response to the proposal, Google began blocking news access on some Canadian user accounts earlier this year.

• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a “terrible mistake” and expressed concern about the blocking of news in the country

The Times Added 190,000 Subscribers Last Quarter

The increase was driven in part by subscriptions to a bundle of products that includes The Athletic sports site, bringing the company’s total subscriber base to 9.7 million.

The New York Times Company on Wednesday said it added 190,000 digital subscribers last quarter, driven partly by subscriptions to a bundle of products that includes The Athletic sports site, bringing the company’s total digital subscriber base to nine million. Adjusted operating profit was $54 million, a drop of 11 percent from a year earlier, as the new subscription revenue was offset by higher operating costs and lower advertising revenue. “In the first quarter, we made steady progress on our essential subscription strategy, with clear signs of substantial runway ahead,” Meredith Kopit Levien, chief executive of The Times, said in a statement.

The company said it had about 9.7 million subscribers of its print and digital products at the end of the first quarter, up about 8 percent from a year earlier. About 710,000 of those were print subscribers, down about 10 percent from the same period last year.

The Times was not immune from a sector-wide advertising slump. The company said that ad revenue decreased about 8.6 percent to $106 million in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, driven by declines in spending in the technology and finance categories. Luxury advertising has remained resilient, and grew during the last quarter.

The Athletic, which the company purchased last year for $550 million in cash, had 3.3 million subscribers at the end of the quarter, more than double the number in the same period last year. Despite that, losses at The Athletic were $7.8 million, up about 14 percent from a year earlier. The company said that The Athletic’s losses seemed more pronounced because the company had owned the site for only two of three months in the first quarter of 2022.

Steve Wozniak Calls For AI Content To Be Labeled, Regulated

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is calling for artificial intelligence (AI) content to be labeled and regulated. Wozniak, in a recent interview with BBC, warned that AI content should be clearly labeled and regulated, noting that the responsibility of AI content rests on those who publish it. “A human really has to take the responsibility for what is generated by AI,” he said, while also pressing for regulations to hold tech companies accountable so they don’t feel they can “get away with anything.” He added that although they cannot stop the development of AI technology, they can prepare people to learn how to interact with AI and to spot misinformation and potential fraud attempts. “AI is so intelligent it’s open to the bad players, the ones that want to trick you about who they are,” he said. Calls to regulate AI have increased in the last few months as the rise of AI platforms, such as ChatGPT, have risen in popularity. Other tech giants, like Google and Microsoft, have also announced plans to launch new AI programs. ‘Building blocks of language’ found across animal kingdom

California may need to invest up to $50B in readying grid for electrification influx: report Some experts and studies have said that the rise in AI could threaten some jobs, with IBM CEO Arvind Krishna saying earlier this month that he could see AI taking over 30 percent of jobs at the company. About half of Americans also said in a poll earlier this month that Congress should take “swift action” to regulate AI.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unveiled a framework last week to regulate the AI industry. The framework includes a requirement for companies to allow independent experts to review and test AI technologies ahead of public releases and subsequent updates.

Publishers Offered Tool For Verifying Accuracy Of Information

Publishers concerned about the accuracy of content can verify the provenance of files and data with a drag-anddrop feature from RKVST, the company says.

The new product, Instaproof, allows users to “instantly verify the authenticity of any file, eliminating the time-wasting, expensive and error-prone processes employed today,” says Rusty Cumpston, CEO, RKVST.

This blockchain-based capability is critical in a time of fake news and AI-generated content, the company says. “Think how a doctored photo could lead media to mistakenly report false information, or how incorrect data could lead a bank or its customers to lose significant money,” Cumpston says.

Users can determine the provenance of information in files registered with RKVST by dragging the file in question by dragging it onto Instaproof, but they do not need an RKVST account. “Most of the data businesses use today comes from outside the secure boundaries of the organization and lacks the integrity metadata needed to prove origin, provenance and authenticity,” Cumpston argues.