Don't even think about Slate thinking about thinking about a pay wall. Forbes media reporter Jeff Bercovici took a look this morning at how Slate is trying to figure out its revenue options, and, judging by its chief's instant freakout, those definitely do not include charging readers for access to every story.
The Slate Group is in a funny position because it is partners with The Washington Post, and WaPo appears pretty close to instituting a paywall of its own. Which led Bercovici to discover an alternative path: "The online magazine has been conducting a survey to gauge support for a subscription-based premium membership program," he wrote. But the story, originally with the words "pay model" in the headline (it is now updated to read: "Tote Bag, Anyone? Slate Considers Membership Model as Way to Get Readers' Cash") led people to associate "premium membership" with "pay wall," which led Slate chairman and editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg to step right in on Twitter:
And there was more freakout:
Bercovici added Weisberg's quotes denying the paywall to his piece, as he notes, as soon as Weisberg replied:
“We’re NOT looking at any kind of metered model or paywall (we tried that in 1998!) and there’s no connection to the kind of model that the Post has reportedly been looking at — other than the shared appreciation that journalism is healthier if it has multiple sources of revenue,” Weisberg says. [Note: Weisberg replied to me just after I published this post; I've updated it to include his comments.]
At the very least, Weisberg's reaction is telling: Slate really doesn't want a pay wall.