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Archive for the ‘paid content’ Category

I wrote a couple years ago about the misleading paywall announcements when three Gannett sites were testing paywalls. Now that Gannett is charging further down that futile path, the Lansing State Journal has perfected the obfuscated paywall announcement.

I’ll break it down by paragraph, describing the content:

  1. Self-praise.
  2. Self-praise. (more…)

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Janet Coats articulated better than I did the problem with the New York Times paywall: It reveals, she says, a “vision very much preoccupied with the rearview mirror.”

Janet, former editor of the Tampa Tribune and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (owned by the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group), notes how quickly last week’s paywall announcement followed Times Editor Bill Keller’s column about aggregation (which required a second attempt). (more…)

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Not surprisingly, I was not alone in having a reaction to the New York Times paywall details, which were announced Thursday.

Lois Beckett of the Nieman Lab asked what I thought, so I told her (as did several others). Steven Brill says not to call it a wall. David Cohn says it’s more like a ramp (great Star Wars metaphor; I’m jealous that I didn’t think of something so clever).

Read Lois’s piece if you want to know what I think (though longtime readers of my blog know that I think most plans to charge for content are foolhardy). (more…)

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Entrepreneurial journalists make a mistake if they think advertising is their only potential revenue stream.

Our entrepreneurial journalism class at Georgetown University will focus tonight on exploring possible ways to make money beyond display advertising. I doubt that many organizations would want to pursue all these possibilities. Particularly if you’re a small organization or an individual, you will need to pick your shots carefully and decide which have the most potential and which are worth the time and money it would cost to try them. Some of these opportunities are tailored for the sole proprietor. Others work better for a larger organization or at least for an entrepreneur or team with specialized technical skills.

Here are some revenue streams we will discuss in class: (more…)

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Monday night I criticized a Pennsylvania newspaper’s plan to charge loyal online readers to read the obituaries. Today I want to suggest a more innovative, future-focused approach to obituaries.

I was interested that Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, cited my Newspaper Next experience in scolding me for Monday’s post. He clearly had an awareness that N2 was about innovation, but (like many of his peers in the newspaper business) he did not learn the core principles of disruptive innovation that we taught in N2.

One of the fundamental lessons of N2, based on the disruptive-innovation research of Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen, was that innovation opportunities rest in identifying “jobs to be done,” needs people have. Innovators who provide welcome solutions to those jobs are on the path to success, Christensen says. (more…)

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When I posted Newspaper charges for reading obits online: double-dipping on death, I invited Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, to respond. I posted his response as a separate post, because I think it’s fair to give him his say uninterrupted. But he raised points that demand or merit a response on my part. So I respond here, republishing his email to me again in full, this time with my commentary interspersed:

Steve,

It’s disappointing to learn that when you left the newsroom, you left behind fairness, the bedrock of credibility in our profession.    As you well know, an ethical journalist reaches out to the subject of a story before publication of that story, not afterwards.  And an ethical journalist does not engage in silly name calling. (more…)

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When I posted Newspaper charges for reading obits online: double-dipping on death, I invited Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, to respond. His response is below. I responded separately.

Steve,

It’s disappointing to learn that when you left the newsroom, you left behind fairness, the bedrock of credibility in our profession.    As you well know, an ethical journalist reaches out to the subject of a story before publication of that story, not afterwards.  And an ethical journalist does not engage in silly name calling. (more…)

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Update: Ernie Schreiber, editor of the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era, has responded to this post. I encourage you to read his response.

If I were seeking to kill off newspapers (I’m not), I would try to persuade them to charge people to read obituaries online. Apparently that’s the plan of Journalism Online, a profiteer seeking to cash in not only on newspapers’ death wish but on the deaths of their readers.

Journalism Online’s sucker in this fantasy-based paywall experiment is the Intelligencer Journal-Lancaster New Era (oh, the irony in that name; I will call it the Old Era for purposes of this blog). People who read more than seven obits a month at the test site, LancasterOnline in Pennsylvania, will be denied access unless they pay $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year. (more…)

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I’ve written plenty about how foolish newspapers are to think that paywalls are any solution to their problems. I won’t repeat that argument (much) here, but I do want to note how disingenuous the recent announcements of paywalls have been.

For much of my career, one of the most consistent complaints of newspaper editors has been about writers who didn’t get to the point. But three paywall announcements by Gannett newspapers, the Tallahassee Democrat, Greenville News and St. George Spectrum, buried their leads so deep that readers didn’t get to the news until the second screen of the online version. All three announcements waited several paragraphs to get to the point: Starting July 1, online readers will have to pay to read their news. All three announcements spun the news with headlines that were misleading at best: (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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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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