Paywalls, Social Media and PR

The Washington Post announced yesterday their plan to implement a paywall to boost revenues. The program allows viewers to read 20 articles online before being charged.  A number of other blogs have noted a “social media loophole”, where links to articles can still be obtained through social media such as Facebook and Twitter for free.

This made me wonder about the social media generation gap and its impact on journalism generally and public affairs and PR more specifically. Obviously, if you can access the page via social media then those in tune with the platforms (i.e., younger generations) are going to have free access. Older generations who are not as social media savvy are the ones who are going to have to pay these fees.

Would older readers who are not on social media sites be the primary ones paying fees for the online subscriptions?  Is the older generation being left behind?

There seems to be a generation gap in today’s working world where the older generation missed the introduction to the social media age.  Change is occurring at such an accelerated rate that social media is no longer just an option. If you are not using social media you are missing a whole generation that spends on average 3.8 hours on social media sites every day.

As PR professionals, however, the party line we’re hearing is that social media is the end all, be all to the future of our industry. Clearly this is true if we’re targeting the 18-25 demographic, but by embracing social media wholesale are we risking overlooking older audiences, many of whom are our key targets for campaigns especially on the policy and advocacy front?

Let us know what you think. What’s your take on the impact of the Post’s social media loophole?