Esquire Sets Up Paywall to Benefit James Foley Marquette Scholarship Fund
Ahead of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Esquire magazine is putting "The Falling Man" -- Tom Junod's 2003 article about the photograph of a man falling from the World Trade Center -- behind an optional paywall and suggesting readers pay $2.99 to read it.
Proceeds will be donated to the James Foley Scholarship Fund at Marquette University. Mr. Foley is one of two American journalists beheaded by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Mr. Junod has written a new introduction that establishes a connection among the photograph, Mr. Foley and Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist killed by ISIS.
"We're all in mourning," said David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire. "These two awful things have happened to people in our profession."
The goal, he added, is to raise $200,000, enough to offer a full four-year scholarship to a single student to Marquette's Diederich College of Communication. "We may fail miserably," the magazine said in materials promoting the ambition. "Or we might surprise ourselves. Either way, we hope you'll help."
Readers can also pay nothing to read the article, or more than the suggested $2.99.
"The Falling Man" is about Associated Press photographer Richard Drew's image of an unidentified man falling from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The image was almost immediately banned from view and later sparked a debate about the appropriateness of certain images and videos.
"Every year around Sept. 11, we see an amazing influx of traffic among people who want to read 'The Falling Man,'" Mr. Granger said. "It's a form of remembrance. It' a story that has tremendous power."
He said there are parallels between Mr. Drew's picture and the visuals of Mr. Foley's killing, which ISIS distributed online. "It just seemed as if this awful coincidence, we could use the falling man and people's interest in it to make a contribution," Mr. Granger added.
A company called Tinypass operates the paywall. Atavist, a digital platform for nonfiction stories, is hosting the story via its Creatavist tool, though readers access the article through Esquire.com.
This marks the third time Esquire will ask readers to pay for an individual article. Last July, it charged readers $1.99 to read Luke Dittrich's story "The Prophet." The magazine sold about 7,000 copies of the article, according to Mr. Granger.
Another attempt at charging for a profile of Matt Damon was less successful. Readers "were far less interested in celebrity than in investigative journalism," Mr. Granger said.
Esquire costs $4.99 at the newsstand. A new one-year subscription costs $8, according to its website.
Mr. Granger said the magazine is looking to come out with a premium digital product or more one-off stories placed behind a wall, beginning around January, likely around the time it introduces a website redesign.
"We do have something planned that we want to debut in January, but the details are in flux," he said, declining to elaborate.
Esquire's total paid and verified circulation climbed 1.6% to an average of about 746,000 copies per issue through the first six months of 2014, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, which tracks magazine circulation.
Unique visitors across desktop and mobile devices were 6 million in July, a 108% increase over the previous year, measurement firm ComScore said.
Print ad pages at Esquire are off 18% through its September issue, according to Media Industry Newsletter.