We're underway at Paywall Strategies 2012, our flagship conference on the monetisation of media. Event chair Steve Hewlett sets and scene and asks whether separating digital teams fro legacy structures is a key to success
Steve Hewlett, broadcast consultant, columnist and presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Media Show, doesn't pull his punches.
"I chaired this last year and I'll be honest with you: Paywalls11 doesn't sounds like a very interesting title for a day out. But I have to tell you that what I learned was fascinating," he said, opening the conference.
He spoke of how the businesses he is involved in - The Guardian, for example - are interested in buttressing in the existing, money-making, business model of print.
Innovation on an incremental level is a bit like "making trains that float, in case they need to go back on the canal," he said.
Steve Forbes, however, restructured his business so that digital was entirely separate, Hewlett points out. "He was very keen to say that when they started considering digital, rather than making digital and analogue work together, they didn't connect them, they did it separately.
"And now the digital part of the business runs the print side. If they had done it the other way around who knows where they would be."
Hewlett says it's no coincidence that the Daily Mail did the same thing and is now the world's most popular newspaper brand online.
And for this year? "Last year was fascinating but it was disparate and I hope we're about to see some evidence about how models work and why they work.
"One of the treally interesting things is how readers, as they once were, become users."
Follow the #Paywalls12 hashtag for updates on Twitter and keep an eye on TheMediaBriefing today for more roundups and updates from the conference.
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