Ryan Holiday made the point that Gawker and its ilk are basically the historical parallel of the original yellow journalism broadsheets, wherein news was paid for issue-by-issue through the most lurid headlines and stories. It was from the ashes of that dumpster fire that the New York Times first launched a subscription model wherein the well-to-do were willing to fund their broadsheet ahead of time in order to increase its accuracy and insight.
NYT has been paywall-enabled for a few years now - how's that working out for them? I saw that the WSJ is basically going with the Pando/NSFWCorp unlock model. I have the whole goddamn internet available to me, but I pay The Week something like $60 a year to be my in-print aggregator.
And I've noticed something from my roommates, who are die-hard advocates of these bullshit little nothing Youtube channels with eighty gajillion views each - they love these talking-head reading-wikipedia bullshit-graphic meaningless-doublespeak videos that tell you nothing you didn't know in a format that reminds you nothing quite so much as a teenaged media intern reading you an eHow page.
But they make money.
And they make money because Youtube is willing to pay them to suck down your eyeballs, but only because Google has an endless pile of money. It's a distortion of the market, an attempt by Google to buy marketshare.
Meanwhile CBS.com, deciding that Hulu was a bad deal, is putting new content online only - they're doing a Good Wife spinoff, the new Star Trek is premiering online only and they're doing a whole season of Big Brother (and probably The Amazing Race) online only. This is a broadcast network that dominates the ratings, has contracts with the NFL and NBA, and they're getting people to pay to watch broadcast television.
I think we're just a few years from the middle class and upper middle class willingly paying a couple different sites for content that isn't bullshit. The externalities driving clickbait journalism are starting to wear out.