The Burden of Subscribing: How Young People Experience Digital News Subscriptions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournalism Studies. 2023. 10.1080/1461670X.2023.2196584
This paper analyzes how young non-paying news users experience digital news subscriptions in Norway. As news organizations face declining advertising revenues, digital subscriptions are considered the sustainable financial strategy of the future, with young people a particularly challenging group to convert. We analyze the experiences of young adults who do not pay for news and identify three key dimensions to why they do not subscribe: lack of exclusivity, subscriptions as too time-consuming, and unattractive payment models. We also detail how the informants maneuver around paywalls, and we highlight “multi-perspectivism” as an overarching concern guiding the informants’ preferences. Empirically, the paper furthers our understanding of the challenges facing business models for journalism, especially problems with long-term, provider-specific subscriptions. Methodologically, we demonstrate how a combination of recurring interviews and a media diary matching a subscription test period yields a deeper analysis of motivations for, and experiences with, news use. Theoretically, the paper shows how approaching news through users’ experiences can provide insights not just into what users appreciate from news but also into where they consider there is a lack of value.