But when the traffic didn't turn into profit readily, the notion took on new seriousness. For some time now, publishers have been weighing the benefits of reconstructing a paywall to bring revenue.
In his latest post, veteran media and tech executive Alan Mutter notes the arrival of new, well-heeled local players in the game (Yahoo, AOL, Huffington Post), all willing to give away content others contemplate placing in behind the paywall.
Mutter's conclusion: "For anyone other than publishers of mission-critical business or government news like the Wall Street Journal and possibly the New York Times, pay walls will not fly. It is time for everyone else to move on to more productive pursuits."
Those pursuits? Unique products for print, online and mobile, valued by customers and advertisers alike. Charging for day-to-day coverage is not likely "fruitful," he argues on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog.