Sorry, folks, but this post sounds like it arrived via a time warp from 1998.
The fact is, The New York Times' paywall, despite all the skeptics, has been a resounding success:
(Disclosure: I've been a subscriber for more than 6 years.)
In fact, it's given its newsroom cheer and confidence that there will always be a New York Times because its millions of online subscribers will support its high level of journalism -- and that it needn't stoop to advertorials that are now masquerading as "native advertising."
The Atlantic's reputation took a nosedive when it ran a "sponsored post" (paid ad) by Scientology. BuzzFeed's reputation is deservedly taking a hit because it runs sponsored content that's sometimes indistinguishable from editorial content.
If you think there's no difference between the two, good luck in life getting your news from infomercials.
Local news organizations will be in financial peril for the foreseeable future -- because they're not the NY Times. So publications need to experiment with multiple revenue sources in a digital era with challenging business models. Native ads (properly labeled as ads), occasional pay walls and several other approaches need to be part of the mix. Let's celebrate any innovations that work and that don't compromise the underlying journalism.