End of an era?
I have definitely noticed some big changes over the past couple of months:
1 ) More and stricter paywalls for media outlets.
2 ) Requests for email registration in lieu of money as a paywall (e.g., BBC two weeks ago)
3 ) Comment sections disappearing
I think this might be due to cookies being slowly deprecated. Therefore paywalls are needed to generate cash to replace advertising. Email can work as a replacement tracking handle. Mining comments for psychological/political profiling is no longer as effective without cookies.
Overall, I think the change is good, and media will hopefully be able to generate more revenue from sales, and perhaps less obnoxious methods of advertising.
As for Google, with diminished revenue from advertising, they will be forced to innovate in new areas, which could be a very positive thing.