Some readers, particularly those I asked to subscribe, might remember I wrote a series of articles on the state of Britain for a website called Beacon in 2014-15. It was initially set up as a pay-walled multi-writer blog, where you subscribed to one writer and gained access to everyone. I had fun writing for it and made a modest amount of money writing articles I would not have written otherwise.
Eventually, Beacon changed its default to allowing articles to be read without a subscription. It was following what its writers asked it to do, but retrospectively, perhaps this was a mistake: it turned subscribers into donators. Earlier this month, I heard that it was closing.
Beacon was a brave experiment, but I think it fell into what is becoming publishing’s digital divide, between paid-for publications and free-to-view ones that have to chase page-views or ask for donations. While there should continue to be a place for specialist and business free-to-view sites which can support themselves with focused advertising, events and other paid-for services, it’s getting harder to see how free works for general interest publications.
* With Beacon’s closure, I have moved some of my favourite articles for it to my own website, in particular those about travelling in Britain; some of these are listed below.
Cake, tea and pork pie at Hobbit motorway services (about Gloucester Services, which has since won a listing in the Good Food Guide)
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