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Posts Tagged ‘paid content’

I have written perhaps too much about paywalls. I even sort of vowed once to stop writing about them (fortunately I hedged it). I think maybe I kept writing about them in hopes of someday expressing my doubts about paywalls as clearly as Mathew Ingram and Dave Winer did today.

Ingram cites three reasons newspapers shouldn’t charge for their digital content:

  1. “Paywalls restrict the flow of content.”
  2. “Paywalls are backward-looking, not forward-looking.”
  3. “Newspapers need to adapt, not retrench.” (more…)

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From the day that Pierre Omidyar announced plans for a digital news organization in Honolulu, I have been intrigued by the project. Here was one of the most successful digital entrepreneurs, venturing into the local news field, where print-focused businesses were mostly failing dismally.

But it wasn’t just any digital entrepreneur. Omidyar was the founder of eBay. When I explained the direct sales aspect of my Complete Community Connection business model, I cited eBay as an example of the businesses that pioneered direct digital sales, while the newspaper business was stuck in its advertising model. I made the same point in discussing newspapers’ “original sin” of the Internet age and in discussing the future of freedom of the press. I thought Omidyar had as good a chance to figure out the business model for local news as anyone. I applied to be editor of his new project, then called Peer News. (I ended up at TBD and John Temple became Omidyar’s editor. But I continued watching closely, and when John made his first hires of “reporter hosts,” I  changed the titles for the community managers we were planning and called them community hosts instead.)

When Civil Beat (it changed names when it launched) debuted earlier this year, I was stunned and disappointed to see that it had a paywall. To get access to the full content, members have to pay $19.99 a month. I believe strongly (and have written perhaps too many times) that news organizations that charge for most of their online content are foolish. The prosperous future for digital local news, I believe, lies in assembling a large audience through content that is free or mostly free, and helping businesses connect with that audience in more meaningful ways than traditional advertising — with targeted ads and with opportunities to buy products, services, gift certificates and discounts directly from local businesses. I see the local news organization providing a digital marketplace for local businesses. Who better to develop that model, I thought, than the guy who owns PayPal? I was amazed to see Omidyar was using PayPal only to charge for content. (more…)

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Looking back over the past year or so, in many ways it was the most frustrating, disappointing period of my career. I normally would avoid looking back on it at all. I am a positive person and have been looking forward to a new job that has taken me out of the newspaper business.

But I sort of had to look back, mostly in surprise, when I learned in January that Editor & Publisher magazine, which boasts that it is “America’s oldest journal covering the newspaper industry,” was naming me Editor of the Year. The magazine announcing the honor arrives in newspaper offices this week, the week after I left the industry.

A year before I received the news, I was preparing to do two of the most difficult things of my career: (more…)

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No one spins shocking news like people who think news sites need to charge for content.

If only 35 people decide to pay for the content you thought was worth $260 a year? No problem. Just say, “That’s 35 more than I would have thought it would have been.” That’s what Staci Kramer of paidContent.org reports that Newsday publisher Terry Jimenez said after the embarrassing number came out during a staff meeting.

Newsday erected its paywall around newsday.com starting Nov. 1 (during the World Series; think Yankee fans were able to find their baseball news elsewhere?).

The New York Observer had a different take: (more…)

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Robert Niles is one of the sharpest commentators about digital journalism and the business of journalism. So his tweet last night caught my eye:

Deal with it – There is no new revenue model for journalism.

He linked to his latest post at OJR: The Online Journalism Review. He makes a lot of excellent points, as I would expect, and I will review some of them later. But I believe he is wrong on his central point: (more…)

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Reviewing 2009 on my blog (mostly for my own information, but I share it because that’s what bloggers do):

My most popular post by far (more than twice as many views as anything else) was my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, posted April 27. I proposed a detailed new business model for community news organizations. It received more links from other blogs and more tweets than anything else I’ve written this year. And interest in C3 remains strong. (After traffic on that post declined from June through September, it increased in October and November. December didn’t quite match November, but exceeded August, September and October). C3 gets more attention in a slow month than my average post gets total.

Everyone wants a blog post to go viral, but I’m glad I didn’t write something quirky that went off the charts. C3 was one of the most important things I’ve written this year (or in my career), so I’m pleased that it received more attention than any other post. I’ve been invited to make presentations dealing with C3 in Florida, Nevada, California, Texas, Siberia and Canada. I hope in 2010 to be writing about how Gazette Communications and other organizations are carrying out the vision of C3.

(more…)

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I have become a bit tiresome, I suppose, in pushing my views that news companies need to stop pursuing paywalls, move beyond advertising and find a more prosperous future in direct transactions.

Well, Dale McCarthy of Fairfax Digital in Australia is showing the wisdom of this approach. A story in B&T reports on McCarthy’s dismissal of paywalls, speaking at a recent media conference.

McCarthy said the internet’s real “rivers of gold” is transactions. (more…)

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