What we desperately need is a real, useful micro-payments model where you can pay per-article. I'd be happy to pay you a few cents, or a dollar, or whatever, for each of the 3 or 4 articles I read on your site per month. But I'm not buying a subscription just to read 3 or 4 articles. The economics just don't work.
The other side of the coin is that if you're a news organisation, "the economics just don't work" with micro payments. You can't fund a month long investigative report based on micropayments, even if it produces a prize-winning piece, if you don't have guaranteed income to support it. What happens if you spend the month investigating and don't find anything?
Micro-payment per-article will only encourage "safe" journalism - articles that you know will resonate with your readers, rather than controversial pieces or in-depth, resource intensive research.
I actually disagree, from what has happened when trying ads ads (basically micropayments in terms of $ amount per view), we get click bait and sensationalist headlines for any news source which focuses on income-per-article-metrics.
"See what liberals/Trump did now!"
But that type of expensive journalism also wasn't funded by subscriptions in the past. Woodword & Bernstein's long reporting on Watergate was funded by classified ads and advertising dollars from local businesses like car dealerships.
NYTimes was recently break-even and then somewhat profitable with digital subscriptions -- but they also had to reduce the headcount over the last 10 years to reduce costs. So far, no newspaper has successfully replaced all the previous ad dollars with digital subscription payments.
Also, has anyone considered that collaboration may be better than competition when it comes to news, and many other things? Look at open source and wikipedia beating the pants off closed source and britannica, encarta etc over the years.
Why not fund wikinews and such sites instead? Much less clickbait and spam and fake news. Different incentives.
Of course, nothing prevents wikinews from being primary source - but that requires much larger expenses of people actually doing original research and reporting (things explicitly shunned on the rest of Wikipedia) instead of refining, curating and summarizing existing source (which is a very useful thing too, but for news it's not enough).
There would be a subscription service like Netflix. And people would contribute all kinds of things to it, including citizen journalism with their own cellphone videos etc. But it would be collaborative, not competitive. Only one story per news item.
Same as what already happens; you don't write the story.
> Micro-payment per-article will only encourage "safe" journalism - articles that you know will resonate with your readers, rather than controversial pieces or in-depth, resource intensive research.
Maybe for some people, but for me it would have the opposite effect. If forced to pay for boring/unoriginal content, I would probably just not read it at all. I already do this for content that is behind subscription paywalls or that has hideous ads everywhere. If anything, being forced to pay for content I read would make me even more reluctant to read useless filler.
I am sure I am not alone. Hacker News in particular is seemingly filled with people who would rather throw down ¢10 or something many times a day than pay for 10 separate monthly subscriptions that don't reflect the actual proportion of reading you do on each journalism platform.
Given how much potential revenue is already lost by forcing people to pay for the full subscription, I don't believe that micropayments are an obviously inferior solution. They might prove to be flawed in some way, but I don't think that the points you make are good arguments against them.
Former news editor here. I have spent a loooong time thinking about how to help my beloved news industry find a payment model that works. I've become convinced that a "cable subscription" model has more promise than a micropayments model.
Here's what's wrong with a micropayments model. Each microtransaction is an additional cost incurred by the user, and in many models that cost can vary based on the website visited and other factors. And so every single time you choose to engage in a microtransaction, you have to do some brief mental gymnastics to determine whether the transaction is valuable enough to you to proceed. It may be only a few cents, so for many people it's not a big deliberation, but the decision is always there, every time.
The benefit of this approach is that there's very little economic waste involved; you pay only for what you buy. But it encourages stingy, penny-pinching behavior, and that's horrible for adoption. If you want broad, mass-market support, it's a big problem.
Under the cable subscription model, you pay a fixed monthly fee for access to a large number of "channels," and in return you can access those channels as much as you want.
Under the hood, that subscription fee can be doled out to each channel based on how much it's accessed, or divided equally, or by some other method in between. But to the end user, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, and they just don't need to think about it. Part of the fee they're paying is for content itself and part of it is for the convenience of not having to regulate usage.
The downside of this approach is that there's more economic waste involved; some light users won't get their money's worth and will end up subsidizing heavy users. But it discourages stingy behavior, and that's great for adoption.
Later on down the line, once the cable-subscription model has been widely adopted, the market will eventually demand more a la carte payment models (we see this happening right now in the fairly mature cable television industry).
But for right now, widespread adoption should be the primary focus of any online payment model. Ultimately, a good number of the major U.S. news publishers would need to get on board, and to date they have been relatively unwilling to cooperate (which may be due to regulatory hurdles). But I'm pretty sure that's what needs to happen. Less sure whether it will be enough to save the industry.
> Flattr is a browser add-on that intelligently measures your interaction with content on the websites you visit, and then automatically distributes the right amount of funds to those sites you engage with the most.
It's like we trust Google not to sell our data to third parties directly (only indirectly).
The main way to combat that is to have the industry as a whole receive funding from a central source so that advertisers can't dictate what is acceptable to each reporting agency. This is why networks like PBS (which is largely publicly funded) and FSTV/LinkTV (which are funded by donations) have more investigative journalism and documentaries than networks like CNN or Fox News.
I'd also like to see something like the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairness_Doctrine brought back for all media. So to receive funding from the central pool, some percentage of articles would have to be in the public good. That's a subjective thing to try to quantify, but, it could start with metrics like what percentage of articles have been verified as accurate or retracted - resulting in some kind of journalistic standard rating.
I'm not a journalist, but I've been thinking about the problem of micropayments for things like open source software for a long time as well. There may be a solution that would work well for both specialties, as they seem to be getting left behind by purely free market forces.
While it's true that advertisers may exert some pressure on publishers (and corporate consolidation has made this worse), it's far better to have hundreds of advertisers, any single one of whom you can freely tick off, than to have a single large benefactor whom you can't. Even if the benefactor is largely benevolent and hands-off, it's not something you should bank on.
> There may be a solution that would work well for both specialties, as they seem to be getting left behind by purely free market forces.
Open source is doing spectacularly well on free market, what are you talking about? Linux is kicking ass, most of content served on the web is served by open source, most of the browsers used to read that content are fully or partially open-source, number of active open source projects is in the thousands and number of participants is probably in millions.
Journalism is not doing as well, but I wonder if it has to do not only with the payment model but with the quality of their product, which, sadly, has lately drastically declined.
As for public vs private planning - that's an argument as old as time. One thing to consider is that since the free market doesn't consider externalities, that's one reason why problems with the environment, inequality, declining health and human services, etc etc etc aren't being adequately addressed by the mainstream media.
I view free speech, the airwaves and even the internet itself as public property. So it makes sense that having a greater share of public funding/ownership in those areas would be better than living under the corporate oligopolies that control it now.
I think you underestimating the number, but even if true, if open source is still so strong despite of that - where is the problem?
> I view free speech, the airwaves and even the internet itself as public property.
Free speech is not a property, it is a human right. Internet is mostly distributed private property, and works just fine with that. As for airwaves, it's a mess, let's not go there, it's irrelevant for our discussion.
> So it makes sense that having a greater share of public funding/ownership in those areas
No it does not. How forcefully extracting money from people mostly unwilling to pay them and allocating them by opaque decisions of people who have little expertise in what is needed and mostly are bothered by looking good on TV is better than voluntary funding by consumers who know what they need? I mean, I can get if you say some things can not be financed otherwise, for reasons. Maybe for some things there's just no way to work out suitable non-governmental model that would work. But here we have a model that already, provably, works. And we have governmental model which is notorious for its poor efficiency, corruption, wastefullness and constant scandalous mismanagement. How it makes sense to replace a working model with it?
You can have public funding with independent editorial control and content curation. This is how most publicly funded news outlets work in liberal democracies, such as the BBC.
How would you ensure that "independent editorial control" would not oppress unpopular opinions? Institute yet another independent curator of curators? And then the third one and fourth one? Why not just leave the people alone and instead of having a dozen curatorial organizations just let them themselves choose what they want to read and listen to? You think they are not able of figuring it by themselves?
> This is how most publicly funded news outlets work in liberal democracies, such as the BBC.
Most of those outlets are very biased and open only to particular set of opinions. Including, of course, BBC. While they manage to occasionally produce high-quality content, they certainly nowhere near providing an adequate representation of the spectrum of opinion existing in the society. Fortunately, in most liberal democracies state-run media does not enjoy the monopoly on information, thus this bias is easily corrected by a gamut of other media outlets. However, since private media is capable of representing the whole gamut of opinions anyway, and to produce high-quality content too, and there is no discernable advantage in public media in that regard, what's the point of having it at all?
That's a good point, and I started to mention that earlier myself. But not having any experience in the news industry, my first thought was that publishers might not want that kind of model. My thinking was that some publishers might look at it as effectively "revenue sharing" (and I guess it would actually be so in many ways) and having some outlets subsidize others.
Under the cable subscription model, you pay a fixed monthly fee for access to a large number of "channels," and in return you can access those channels as much as you want. Under the hood, that subscription fee can be doled out to each channel based on how much it's accessed, or divided equally, or by some other method in between. But to the end user, it's an all-you-can-eat buffet, and they just don't need to think about it. Part of the fee they're paying is for content itself and part of it is for the convenience of not having to regulate usage.
I could see this working as long as there aren't too many such services, or we're back to just a variation on the first problem. Much like I subscribe to multiple streaming providers (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.) I could see paying for maybe 3 or 4 such services, if the content quality justifies it.
Something that might work is something like what Prime does... you pay your base Prime fee, you get a bunch of free stuff, and then you can add on "add-ons" that are, relatively speaking, fairly inexpensive. Amazon has suckered me into about 7 or 8 "add ons" to my Prime account, including HBO, Showtime, Shudder, and several more. Since each is fairly cheap in isolation, it's been easy to click the "add this" button. Now if I sat down and did the math to see how much I'm actually paying Amazon a month, I might start looking to cut some, but up to this point, I haven't...
The user can simply click "read this article (1 credit)" while logged in. Then the article becomes accessible to them forever. They can read it as long as they are logged in.
As time goes on, you can increase the cost of credits to meet your needs, but outstanding credits are always honored, and purchased articles are always accessible in the user's "library".
Just a thought I've had. Not sure how well it would work in practice.
Do any news organizations operate off of endowments, or trusts, like colleges? (I guess that leads to another question, are there national news organizations that are non-profits as well?)
Payments need to be based on quality of work. The system should ensure that Alex Jones doesn't make much and ProPublica does well.
For instance, let's say you get 10 major publishers on board, and each of them has 25 regional properties. So that's subscriptions to 250 news sites total.
Maybe a third of the total revenue gets split evenly among those 10 publishers, and another third gets split based on page views / engagement. Then one-sixth gets distributed based on Pulitzers or other quality-type metrics, and one-six gets distributed based on number of new subscribers brought in by the publisher.
Then the publisher can decide how it wants to allocate that revenue. It might employ a similar system to decide how to distribute it to each of its properties. Then the editor can employ a similar system to decide how to allocate the budget to clickbait vs. substantive reporting.
It does require you to read articles on its own website and not the original publisher's, but it's a nice clean layout. You own (a license for) articles once you pay for them. There's also fast, automated refunds if you don't like an article.
Only gripe would be the price per article, which I assume they negotiate with each publisher, since it varies widely. As more people us e it I would hope this comes down a bit.
In general a la carte payments usually lead to overall higher costs (e.g. Classic Blockbuster vs. Netflix).
My ideal system would be a Spotify-like system. I'd pay a flat rate for access to all news and then each organization gets a percentage of my payment proportional to the number of articles I read by them. That is, if I pay $10/mo and 50% of the things I read are on the New York Times, then they'd get $5 (ignoring margin for whatever entity manages this exchange).
I can't ever imagine news orgs opt-ing into this model though. Perhaps Apple could pull an iTunes-equivalent with Apple News?
The music industry is (according to googling) about $25BB a year for live events and $15BB a year for retail (streaming, downloads, discs, etc.)
Spotify's revenue is about $3BB/year, ballpark 10% of the revenue needed to support the music industry. (Spotify has its own expenses, which we are ignoring.)
News media can't command live event revenue the way music can, and their physical sales are disappearing faster than music's. That suggests, to use the music analogy, that subscribers to a Spotify-like system would have to support most of the approximately $25BB that this industry commands. Depending on how many news readers there are compared to music listeners, that's possibly $50-150/mo that would need to be asked of subscribers.
Outside of Financial Times subscribers (even that $600/year is ad-subsidized), most people aren't willing to spend this much on a newspaper. You can quibble with the numbers, but ultimately the news industry is more reliant on individual subscribers than the music industry.
Centralization is just going to get worse and worse until the internet feels like AOL back in 2000.
-Every upvote you give during that month (not just views, since I think views encourage clickbait) gives an equal slice of that $4 pie.
-At the end of the month, a flat $1 goes to pay for server costs, then the rest is distributed evenly between every upvote.
You can see a mini-demo here: http://syd.jjcm.org/soci/
The nice part of it is it ranks by quality while distributing payments. Since payouts happen at the end of the month, it gives a buffer zone to "unvote" something should it turn out to be fake/stolen/etc. The $1/mo for server costs should be more than enough per user to keep things running smoothly without the need for ads/selling user data. I'm working on it solo right now, if anyone is interested in helping out I'd be more than happy to share the project. Or if you're just inspired by it, go ahead and copy it. I think it's a solid model and is worth pursuing, though I'd also appreciate criticism on it.
It may devolve into paying for an echo chamber, but I have faith that at least a larger number of people will reconsider their votes if they know that the votes give a share of their pool of contribution.
They offer $5/month subscriptions, and the money from subscribers is distributed among those writers who published members-only content based on the amount of "claps" (likes) each subscriber gave.
The other thing though is flattr doesn't deal with content discovery very well. It doesn't rank content, it simply measures your own. Think of the one I'm working on as a reddit/hn except upvotes distribute a portion of your payment pool, that way we get a quality hierarchy in addition to distributing payments.
Contrast that with direct media expenditures of about $125 to $150 or so per person.
There should be a model where it does not incur significant cognitive load when I want to read an article, and does not allow abuse by dishonest players. I imagine some billionaires could be made that way. Brave browser team seems to be working on something like that, no idea how good it would be...
That would incentivize hit-and-run articles that cause sensation to milk micropayments, leading to a spiral of clickbait even worse than that caused by advertising.
With micropayments you are making small payments for articles as you go and not paying a fixed fee, the problem with that is that you end up with click bait headlines that people will pay for and garbage for actual content.
How does a consumer actually evaluate the price of the good?
How do I not browse to nytimes.com, because the subcent per scroll price has gone up?
I don't actually have an answer, but it's one that bothers me.
the news has it harder as its content is not necessarily as unique as individual tv shows. the editorial content is unique per paper and a valid revenue stream provided the paper can assemble a valuable enough team with broad appeal. however charging for national and international news? too much competition, this is the last place to bet the paper on
AdWords/AdSense solved micro payments by bundling $0.01 clicks into monthly segments and. I expect google to try the same model with publishers, especially since a) adblockers are increasing, and b) google has already proved it can bully publishers into signing up for any "service" it offers.
See GC Presents, "At the Graduate Center, we believe knowledge is a public good. This idea inspires our research, teaching, and public events. We invite you to join us for timely discussions, diverse cultural perspectives, and thought-provoking ideas.".
See GC President Chase F. Robinson, introducing a conversation between Paul Krugman and Olivier Blanchard. A rare moment where the introduction itself contains some provocative thoughts. At about 50s into the video. (The remaining 72 minutes and 20 seconds aren't bad either if you're interested in discussions of global economics.)
Joseph Stiglitz, "Knowledge as a Global Public Good," in Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc A. Stern (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 308-325.
Government is, at least, answerable (in theory) to the people in a way that no other alternative I'm aware of is: advertising, patronage, religious sponsorship.
Media are inherently propagandistic -- there is always an exceptionally strong incentive to manipulating, diverting, distracting, or otherwise controlling the public or oligarchical discussion.
Unfortunately, like the AMP fiasco, I doubt this is what will happen as Google doesn't exist to serve it's users.
If I click a link on Google, I should see the same results that Google 'saw.' I think a fancier word for this would be 'trust.'
So far, I like Google's results and make use of their personalized results. One of the reasons I do so is because I trust the results, for certain definitions of trust that is.
If I can't trust that the site showed me the same response that it showed Google, we have an erosion of that trust. It may be time for me to seek an alternative.
There intent is to serve users with quality, truthful information. If all the quality information goes out of business and gets replaced with "Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: Obama failed New Orleans during Katrina!!" then Google doesn't have any more quality information anymore.
Google and Facebook are becoming acutely aware of how easily dishonest propaganda can propagate through their systems and are trying to find a solution for that. One step is making sure that people who have to make a living finding the truth for us all have the means to get paid.
1. Google is best search engine, attracts most eyeballs looking to find content
2. Advertisers pay google to show their ads to my eyeballs
3. I use Google because it provides good, true, accurate content, when I click on a link to nytimes.com Google should pay nytimes.com a portion of the revenue they collected
Almost, kinda, makes sense maybe? Or maybe this'll be the revenue model for a post-Google source of information.
I thought their intent was to serve me the websites that I'm looking for. If their aim it to define truth, I want to see them broken up.
Ewww. This might be the time I hit Duck Duck Go.
To be clear, I have no issue with paywalls. But they should be flagged as such.
"Article title: blah blah blah [Subscription required to view content]" even.
But they won't do that, because publishers, who buy advertising, will scream because they KNOW their click through rates would plummet. After all, even with a paywall, you still get plenty of metrics and advertising bumps on that first click to the site.
No, not at all. It just doesn't let you get free articles behind the pay wall. So now you can either avoid the pay wall websites or you just block them.
Note that in no way am I complaining about using Google to avoid paywalls. I rarely bother.
I'm talking about having to filter out paid content that is indiscernible from free content.
> "Google’s plans include doing away with the “first click free” policy, which requires subscription-based news outlets to offer three free articles a day through its search and news features, allowing users to skirt pay walls. A new program, which Google plans to start this week and is calling “flexible sampling,” will allow those publishers to determine how many free clicks to give Google’s users."
So sites can still give access to Google visitors (which I bet many will), but they just have more say over the specifics.
I'm pretty tired of shitty clickbait headlines, and stories which cherry-pick a handful of twitter posts to make it seem like there's outrage over something.
Even worse, it seems like most publishers are dead set of trying to feed you their agenda. Why would I pay for misleading or intellectually dishonest articles?
Short-term, I think people undervalue the value of local news. There are often a lot of info holes when it comes to local government and politics. I wonder if this has adverse affects that lead to less involvement in local politics except when a NIMBY issue appears, which doesn't seem like good governance.
Local news coverage, with the exception of major cities, tends to be sparse and often non-existent. Even for some major areas there can be a lot of holes in coverage.
This problem makes itself apparent to me when come election day I try to look up all of the candidates, and find no info for many of them that isn't from their own website (if it even exists).
Google is funding the creation of software that writes local news stories
EDIT: That is, you can check the PTR record of an IP: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/80553?hl=en
Paying/subscribing for general-purpose news is old news. It had its time, and that time is over. Much like music industry CD sales with the real rise of p2p, news orgs will have to figure out what their "ipod" equivalent is going to be.
One thing I think that is missing from the discussion is metrics. If you do a nice job building the site, and let users give an indication whether they want to see more or less coverage on the topic, you can offer this metrics data back to the news outlets, which can give them far better direction than simply looking at website clicks (which encourages click-bait). This, along with a slice of micro-payments would be valuable to them.
I have CNET blocked due to their CBS and CES Fiasco and never unblocked them.
So an author of a book that had 200 readers would get roughly double the pay of one that has 100 readers.
I would gladly pay for a kind of all access pass that divided up my subscription money to the news sites I visited the most.
Of course, if someone goes to 200 different sites equally an individual publisher would get less from that customer but I think that's fair.
The government puts some tax money into a pot, and it's paid out to authors in proportion to the number of loans of their books. There's also a cap to stop the bulk of the money going to a handful of bestselling authors.
In some ways, this can be seen as croudsourcing decisions on government subsidy, which is an interesting model.
Subscription or no subscription.
Here's why they don't work:
- If I respect a publication and feel that the content has value for me, I'll happily subscribe.
- If I click on a clickbait headline only to arrive at a paywall, it's like a small and unpleasant electric shock, punishing me for clicking the link.
- Paywall creators think that the combination of clickbait and paywalls is magical and gets people to subscribe, but it does not, it only creates negative emotion and irritation.
- There is no such thing as a free lunch. If publishers want subscribers they need to consistently produce high quality content day after day, week after week. They also need to forego the sugar high of clickbait.
- That means there can't be some sort of social virality genius telling the editor how to title articles and showing charts of all the clicks from Reddit, etc. Doing this may generate some incremental subscribers, but it does so at the cost of the publication's brand image.
- The approach Salon used of showing the first third or half of the article is better than a "You obviously love great journalism" banner. Let the content stand on its own and earn the subscription.
- I have not been able to bring myself to subscribe to the NYT or WaPo for one simple reason -- around half of the articles they publish are very low quality and many have clickbait headlines. The article headlines have the feel of being ads themselves that falsely represent the content of the article. In many cases the articles are pretty solid reporting, but the headlines oversell them as being the article that will bring down the Trump presidency.
If I were a journalist I'd be pretty outraged if I took the time to write a thoughtful article and then some virality genius retitled it something silly and tribe-oriented to get the shallowest of readers to thoughtlessly click it.
I agree about ads, but my least favorite are the ones that begin playing video in a tiny window that devours laptop battery life... It's strange to imagine the marketers who are designing these pages. They must imagine that all of us read only when watching TV is not an option, so they try to make the website as much like TV as possible, complete with a tiny screen that you can click on to simply shift into couch potato mode.
The fight against browsers rendering markup in the way their users want is a losing one.
How much do you spend monthly supporting online publications?
But I agree that the concept of a paywall is not necessarily evil. FWIW the sites I do pay for all have paywalled content.
That approach increases the percentage of people who clicked on a viral headline only to find a paywall. The problem is not a fee for subscription, it's shoving the wall in the face of the reader while spending money to create and market clickbait viral headlines.
I realize that from the marketing perspective it's just a funnel, and the first step in the funnel is the headline copy. So none of the later steps (article engagement, etc.) matter unless the first step "succeeded" in generating a click.
But this doesn't work with news, which is probably why the NYT and WaPo are moving more toward marketing to a tribe of people with specific beliefs rather than writing news and analysis that can be relied upon for its consistency and objectivity.
The WSJ on the other hand has been running the same kind of news coverage and analysis for years, and has not really changed its approach to fit with a viral marketing strategy.
News and analysis used to be judged by consumers/subscribers for the overall information value it provided. Now, that step is being skipped and individual headlines and stories are being judged by how effectively they rise to the top of Facebook's news feed algorithm. It's a fundamentally different game and the WaPo and NYT are able to very effectively get stories into news feeds, and my guess is that the people responsible for that are getting praise and financial rewards for making it happen, yet the consistency and reliability of the publications is suffering tremendously.
News feed aggregation is biased by the people who like/click/engage with content, so content that does well might not be better quality than content that does poorly, it's just content that works better in that marketing channel.
Analogously, imagine if we evaluated food quality by how well it slid through a series of pipes, rode along a belt, and was then shoved by a robotic foot onto a plate. Some foods would work very well in that machine and end up on the plate reliably. Others would not.
What we're seeing is news orgs fundamentally changing how they report on events simply in response to the characteristics of news feed algos, which are simply crude machines just like the tube and belt contraption described above. It's a very hard to understand system, but more importantly there is tremendous dimensionality reduction going on in the cause/effect analysis. Dimensions like journalistic quality, consistency, and civic value are washed out by tribe affiliation value and the amount of dopamine generated when the viewer first reads the headline.
From the perspective of finding entertaining content to keep people logged into Facebook it works fantastically, but something is definitely lost in the process :)
Those who could find people to buy what they are producing, are already doing it on social funding platforms.
The models that are struggling are those who are not able to sell what they have to sell... a product that not only sold ad-space but infoticles, just like infomartials on TV or product placement in movies, there was paid bias in articles. In the days of Internet, no body wants to watch ads, not in the sidebar clearly labeled as an ad, or in the center of the page in terms of a info(ar)ticle.
I would rather pay to hear the bias of the person speaking, than letting a corporation tell that person what he or she can or can't write. There is banding together of like minded people to pool resources together to keep making progress on a cause, much better model than a corporation. Much efficient use of funds, time, energy. The only one to loose is the investor or influence seeker, who would have to do much more digging than just walking into an top floor office with a check in hands.
Used to have to add the source, then slide the frequency slider down to 0. Looks like Google automatically moved them to blocked.
Better yet, just have a setting to automatically block all sites using paywalls. They have a right to deploy paywalls, we have a right to request never to see them in our feed.