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Shutting the gates

Online newspapers embrace registration

Like everything on this site, this piece is my own opinion.

This year, as I’ve mentioned before, is the year online newspapers will lock the front door with registration. If they’re going to succeed in this endeavour, it’ll be because everyone else is doing it.

Two more sites, the Guardian Unlimited’s media section and the Washington Post, have joined the bandwagon (the Post is requiring more information from registrants).

This process seems at odds with the newspapers’ desire to attract younger readers. Most “young” people don’t read the printed papers; many get their news from Web sites, often through blog links. By blocking these kind of easy referral, it makes it that much more difficult to convert potential readers into subscribers (either print or online).

Maybe the newspapers will get around this by establishing some kind of affiliate relationship to encourage referral links (the New York Times has done this for some sites). Or perhaps people will register, maybe even with their real information.

Then again, it may not even matter.