A system to buy individual articles without a subscription

We noticed something horrible: collectively at Verb we have at least 17 news subscriptions, but we still hit paywalls every day. For reasons we have discussed at length, today the best information is behind paywalls. We want a system that lets readers buy individual articles without paying for a subscription.

Michelle Garret put it best:

Journalists at Verb (and anywhere) hate paying for news, but we still recognize that subscriptions are the most effective way to pay for news writing. The New York Times and other newsrooms have been able to transition their business from print advertising to digital subscriptions over the last ten years in a model that works.

This is a list of the news subscriptions we have at Verb:

  1. The Economist
  2. Sun Sentinel
  3. Miami Herald
  4. The Washington Post
  5. The New York Times
  6. The Wall Street Journal
  7. The New Yorker
  8. Wine Spectator
  9. Business Insider
  10. The Information
  11. TechCrunch
  12. La Prensa (Honduras)
  13. El Financiero (Costa Rica)
  14. Financial Times
  15. Civilnet
  16. Nor Haratch
  17. Jamanak

There is a massive volume of information available online, and newsrooms provide a first level of curation which nobody has been able to automate. We cannot subscribe to every news outlet, so today most of this curation remains out of reach.

Our service would make it possible to access this information to any reader who can spend $1 in getting quality information on any topic of interest. It would also make it possible to recommend the reader related quality information behind paywall.

The service would do this by subscribing to every newsroom of interest to customers and reading the entire pool of information behind paywall to recommend related articles.

These are some software design principles we came up with to make the idea work:

  • Payment: secure, fast payment system for amounts as small as $0.99 for either single articles or periodical access (hourly/daily/weekly/biweekly/monthly)
  • Identity: private username and password system with option to share information with publishers
  • Clipping: library of purchased content with permanent access even after publisher takes items offline
  • Recommendations: lists of available articles related to users’ purchases, created either by AI or newsroom
  • Reading trends: publisher dashboard with information about reading habits across system

Any feedback? Do you want to join us? Get in touch:

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