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Today’s Online News Norms

For Bentley — who co-owns AllNovaScotia with his daughter, the publisher — “getting it out there” simply wouldn’t happen without the site’s uncompromising paywall.

“We’ve got to do that, otherwise they won’t buy the bloody thing,” he says flatly. “Our competition is people who want to read it for nothing. That’s the great big overarching thing that attempts to suck our blood every day. It sounds a bit paranoid. But that’s the problem.”

The result, says the consultant and blogger Donham, is a web site that would appear not to get the Internet at all, by today’s online news norms.

But that’s fine with Bentley. He knows what his content is worth to his audience — in contrast to many media excutives who “think what they’ve got is more valuable than it is.” He acknowledges the value of social media in the Arab Spring uprisings, but insists, “You can’t be in the content business and not get paid for it.”

How a tightly paywalled, social-media-ignoring, anti-copy-paste, gossipy news site became a dominant force in Nova Scotia.