Home > Journalism Blog, Master's Capstone Project, Uncategorized > News Pay Models Need Added Value

News Pay Models Need Added Value

November 30, 2009

We all know advertising alone on the Web won’t save journalism, so we must find alternative solutions.

As a part of my master’s work at Hofstra University, I’ll be looking into different models and attempting to find one that will work for a hyperlocal news organization.

While flipping through studies, one says 74 percent of people say they’ll find another free site instead of paying for content, while a second study pins that number at 48 percent.

And the debate on both sides is age-old.

Some comments on some studies contend news sites could work together and all begin to charge a small fee to begin, and “ramp” up the price until it is a sustainable business. The trouble with that is in a highly competitive industry such as journalism, getting rival news orgs to get along and play the same game is a lofty goal.

And if there are questions of whether the public will pay for news on one site, imagine the questions swirling over whether readers will pay to read the same news on four different sites (i.e. the New York newspaper market). This will breed more competition, innovation and perhaps the market would push one in front of the others. While that sounds good, it could result in news orgs shutting down, and leaving the public with fewer viewpoints and voices.

It seems to be common sense that giving something to the public for free for 15 years, then trying to charge $250 a year isn’t a great idea. At the very least, news organizations need to work on Web innovation now in their planning for a future when some content (if not all) comes at a price to the reader.

  • create valuable and evergreen flash products
  • develop workflows for daily online video (packaged and live)
  • grow a community through social media sites
  • survey how much viewers follow live blogs and live chats

Realizing the habits of viewers with these services will only benefit news orgs in the future, and tell them what their audience is willing to pay for. The average online media organization will have to work harder and do more in a day, but after giving their hard work away for free on the Internet for so long, they’ve dug their own hole. Looking into the list above (plus I’m sure many others) may help some get out of that hole, and by charging for those services, help news media turn a profit online.

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