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30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 19 May 2010

Steve discusses paywalls with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and Sunday Times editor John Witherow, in front of an audience in the Radio Theatre.

This is a subject every newspaper editor's considered: whether to charge people who want to read their websites. "Because news costs, because quality costs... because free isn't sustainable, because free is too expensive" - the words of Les Hinton, chief executive of the Wall Street Journal's publisher, part of News Corp.

At the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger has ruled out paywalls and warned that rushing to introduce them could see the industry "sleepwalk into oblivion". The Daily Mail has said "readers will not pay to consume general news on the web".

Rupert Murdoch disagrees. He is already charging online readers of the Wall Street Journal and, from June, The Times and The Sunday Times will start charging £1 a day, or a weekly subscription, for access to their websites. The Sun and the News of The World will follow. The Sunday Times will get its own dedicated website in a move editor John Witherow describes as "a hugely significant moment for the paper".

Who is right? And, as some claim, does the survival of the free press rely on Rupert Murdoch's plans succeeding?

  • Alan Rusbridger – Editor of The Guardian

    Alan Rusbridger – Editor of The Guardian

    Alan Rusbridger has been a journalist since 1976 working as a reporter, columnist, foreign correspondent and editor. He began on the Cambridge Evening News and worked in Washington as a correspondent for the London Daily News. In 1988 he was the launch editor for Weekend Guardian, he became features editor for The Guardian in 1994 and became the paper’s editor in 1995.

    The Guardian
  • John Witherow – Editor of The Sunday Times

    John Witherow – Editor of The Sunday Times

    John Witherow is the longest-serving editor in the history of Rupert Murdoch's newspaper empire having served as the editor of The Sunday Times since 1994. He’s been at the paper since 1984, with stints as Focus editor, foreign editor and managing editor (news). He was appointed acting editor in 1994, and the role was made permanent in 1995.

    The Sunday Times


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