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The Consumerist Gets a Tip Jar

Can a pay wall be far behind? No, says Consumer Reports.


Dylan Stableford By Dylan Stableford
04/20/2009 -10:22 AM






With all the talk surrounding paid content online and so-called micropayments—and publishers like Time Inc., Hearst and Rodale said to be developing models with a renewed hope that they can finally charge something for their Web content—little has been mentioned of another Web 1.0 concept making a surprise return: the online “tip jar.”

Last week, the Consumerist, the blog now owned by Consumer Reports, put one up.

When Consumer Reports bought the Consumerist back in late December, it was immediately stripped of ads. (As has been its policy, Consumer Reports does not accept ads, relying, instead, on print and online subscriptions.)

Since Consumer Reports is one of the few magazine publishers to successfully charge for content online, one might assume that the Consumerist’s future might eventually be behind a pay wall. Not so, says Marc Perton, executive editor at ConsumerReports.org.

“There are no plans to charge for The Consumerist,” Perton wrote in an e-mail. “Consumers Union has a range of content on the Web, some of it pay, some of it free. All of our blogs are free. And our videos. And all of our advocacy-related content. Consumerist fits well in that universe, and we believe it serves its readers well as a free site.”

Perton continued:  “We've always believed that consumers will pay for unique and valuable content—and we have over 3 million paying subscribers who agree with us. Other publishers have to determine what business model is best for them, but we certainly think charging for content can be a viable business model for other publishers.”

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