Magazines lift paywalls amidst health crisis

As BD reported last year, Condé Nast introduced and implemented a plan to roll out the “next phase” of a strategy that began in 2014, which involved adding paywalls to online titles as part of a wider industry trend to boost profits.

However, the global media giant has confirmed to WWD that it has now lifted the paywalls on all COVID-19 stories across titles such as The New Yorker, Wired and Vanity Fair, in an effort to keep readers informed as the situation develops. Condé Nast’s other US-based publications, including Glamour, GQ and Teen Vogue, do not use paywalls.

The move follows Condé Nast Italy's announcement that it is now offering digital copies of all its titles at no cost for three months, including Vogue, GQ, Wired, AD, La Cucina Italiana and Condé Nast Traveller. It also launched a Vanity Fair Italy issue dedicated to Milan, which is one of the areas most severly impacted by coronavirus.

“In a moment like this one, in which the priority is the national health, our mission continues to be the one to inform and entertain, and to do so in the correct way,” Condé Nast Italia CEO, Fedele Usai, said.

Other US publishers that have unlocked previously gated COVID-19 content include Vox Media, which made all New York Magazine articles about the coronavirus free, as well as on The Cut, Vulture, Intelligencer, Grub Street and The Strategist. The Atlantic, a 162-year-old politically focused publication from Washington D.C., is doing the same for its readers.

Meanwhile, Hearst Magazines has not responded to WWD’s request for comment, but it currently only has a paywall at one title – Runner’s World. A selection of newspapers, such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, unlocked some content earlier last week. The most vital news and guidance surrounding COVID-19 is now available to all of the Times’ registered users, while its daily Coronavirus Briefing newsletter is also available at no cost.