Google’s policy was fairly obvious from the reader’s side, but the actual business decisions were not. People in the know were aware that if you clicked through a headline from Google, you were able to read a complete newspaper story, even though the story was behind a paywall.
It turns out that Google was forcing that policy on the papers. If a newspaper did not allow Google visitors to read the story for free, it would not appear in Google News and the newspaper would be demoted in the regular search.
The Wall Street Journal refused Google’s requirement. According to the story, the traffic from Google News dropped 89%. You can’t survive in the online digital world without Google.
Apparently, Google is trying a more conciliatory approach, but it isn’t going to work. While I might consider paying for a single news aggregator, I’m not going to pay $10 a month to each of 20 different papers, many of whom are just printing the same AP or Reuters wire story. AP currently offers their news free in mobile apps.
If Google does point to subscription offers instead of the story, people who understand Google News know that the reader can demote individual news sources – those that enforce a paywall (or strong political bias). The proposed change will send traffic to tertiary news sources that are not motivated by the need for revenue from subscriptions to pay for journalists – the BBC, RT, Huffington Post, Facebook, Al Jazeera, Daily Caller, VOA, Breitbart, etc… TV stations and even local news channels paid by cable TV are willing to fill the void.
A large swath of people under 40 are not motivated to consume news, and think late night hosts on the Comedy Channel are presenting “news”. it is total fantasy to think they would pay money for quality news. They grew up on the Internet where the ethos of “Information wants to be free” was a guiding principle of the people who conceived of it.