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Archive for the ‘paid content’ Category

Reading your old posts, stories or columns can be humbling for a writer. Sometimes a post doesn’t seem as clever or insightful in retrospect as it did at the time. Sometimes something that was clever or insightful at the time appears less so in light of events since you wrote.

So I was a little hesitant when a tweet from Jennifer 8. Lee, a former New York Times reporter, prompted me to look up an old post from my Training Tracks blog at the American Press Institute, Why aren’t they using our pay phones?

Voicing a pet peeve of mine (that I have also voiced on Twitter), Lee tweeted:

hate airports where they make plugging in difficult. are charleston outlets deliberately wiggly, so laptop plug cant stay in? (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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The Midwest Newspaper Summit confirmed my view that the Complete Community Connection offers the best path to a prosperous future for news media companies.

I heard some good ideas discussed at the meeting, and the best possibilities for generating new revenues were ideas at the heart of the C3 approach.

The summit, sponsored by seven state press associations, drew more than 250 people to the Grand River Center in Dubuque. I can’t remember the last time I attended a newspaper industry meeting where they had to set up additional chairs, but they did. Jo Martin and Jennifer Asa of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation deserve great credit for planning, promoting and presenting the program. I posted more than 100 tweets from the summit on Thursday, so I won’t try to recap here. Instead, I will give my views on how the key points of each speaker will contribute to that search for a prosperous future: (more…)

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Howard Owens has weighed in with his view on what the newspaper industry’s “Original Sin” was in the early days of the Internet:

Alan Mutter says we screwed up by failing to charge for content. I say not only was that not a mistake, but many newspapers did try to charge for content. I have written that the Original Sin was that we “did next to nothing to explore how we might use this new technology to help businesses connect with customers.”

Howard, publisher of the digital startup The Batavian, contends that a greater error was keeping our online units “tethered to the mother ship.” Howard, one of the most insightful people working in digital journalism, makes an excellent case in his blog that we would have done a better job in moving into the digital age by spinning our web sites off into standalone companies. (more…)

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A recent post that I wrote included some hearty debate in the comments between Tim O’Brien of the New York Times and me (with several other people weighing in). That debate for a couple weeks didn’t include the person whose post launched the discussion, Chris O’Brien (no relation to Tim apparently) of the San Jose Mercury News.

Chris was gone to Yosemite (lucky fellow) for a week when the debate originally broke out. Then an illness further delayed his response. While I approved his comment this morning, I wanted to use it in a separate post, partly to give it greater prominence and partly so I can respond to some specific points.

I should note that this debate is really about a secondary point of my post a couple weeks ago. I argued that the Original Sin of the newspaper industry in the early days of the World Wide Web was not failing to charge for content, as Newsosaur blogger Alan Mutter has written, but failing to innovate in how we served businesses. I think this is a much more serious issue than the one Tim and Chris and I are debating: why readers buy the newspaper and how much they are paying for it. But nonetheless, this is an important and interesting issue, so I gladly highlight it again. (By the way, I’m planning another post soon about another huge mistake we made early in the digital age, and what we need to do to avoid repeating that mistake.) (more…)

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I am excited about the New Business Models for News project.

Not that I think they got it right. My first two comments on their site after they released their models and spreadsheets of financial figures for the first three years were critical. But what they do have right is the approach of openly consulting with the industry, responding collaboratively to critics and thinking differently about where the revenue for future news business models will come from. I’m hopeful that they will get it right.

I don’t like yesterday’s post, New Organizations, New Relationships, because it quoted me and linked to my blog, though I appreciated that. I like it because of the collaborative approach and the open mind. I like that it  advocates new relationships with businesses that go beyond selling advertising. (more…)

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A mistaken matter-of-fact statement in an Associated Press story launched Chris O’Brien on an insightful blog post that had little to do with the original story.

In the same way, a statement in Chris’s post launched me on this post, which will start out in a different direction from his blog.

The AP story, about Microsoft, said, “If it doesn’t make the right calculation, the software maker could find itself in the same position as newspapers that gave online content away and now are struggling to replace print revenue.”

Chris, contributing to the MediaShift blog, wrote: “That second line is almost a throwaway, written with no attribution. That means that the notion has officially entered into conventional wisdom: Local newspapers screwed up by giving away for free the content everyone used to pay to consume.” (more…)

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I hesitate to write again about newspapers’ insistence on finding a way to make paid content work online.

I’ve written that we can’t cling to the past, that we never made our money by charging for content, that we already know paid content doesn’t work and that people will find other news sources if we erect pay walls.

As David Simon and Ryan Chittum campaigned for pay walls in the Columbia Journalism Review, I considered jumping in on the issue. As the New York Times, which couldn’t get people to pay for its famed columnists, prepared to try again, I considered taking another swing, but held up. (more…)

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Newspapers can be replaced.

Don’t get me wrong. I love newspapers. I have spent my adult life (and the later years of my youth) working in the newspaper industry, starting as a carrier. Old newspapers hang on my office walls and fill my cabinets and file drawers. I believe that pretty much any mediocre newspaper is still the best news outlet and advertising vehicle in most any community.

But I am concerned by a conceit I hear and read too often from journalists and newspaper executives hoping to get by with incremental approaches to innovation. It certainly underlies the notion that if newspapers suddenly all started charging for content, the freeloading public would have to buckle and start paying. These people dismissively proclaim that their communities would suddenly starve (or pay) for news and information if the newspaper went out of business or its content vanished behind a paywall.   (more…)

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I don’t want to belabor my opposition to paid content or to the secrecy of last week’s meeting of newspaper executives.

But the secrecy and the resulting attention to the heavy paid-content focus of the meeting kept us from learning until a week later about Alan Mutter’s interesting presentation about ViewPass, a plan for a system that would allow easy payment by consumers across multiple platforms and extensive collection of data that would allow publishers to target advertising based on that visitor’s interests.

Mutter proposes ViewPass as a way to “access valuable content on the websites and mobile platforms of all participating publishers.” While I have concerns about all paid-content approaches (I made the Freudian typo “pain-content” in a tweet last night), and about the industry’s unhealthy focus on such a misguided approach, I concede that charging for high-value content might work in some niches. (more…)

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Secret is as secret does. 

When I first wrote about Thursday’s NAA meeting of newspaper executives, I had to confess I didn’t actually know what was happening, but was writing based on some blogs that were mostly based on speculation or rumor or on the agenda for the meeting, which James Warren of The Atlantic obtained. After some off-the-record emails and a phone call and after reading Editor & Publisher’s two accounts of the meeting, I know more about what was discussed there. My basic views remain unchanged: The meeting was misguided and newspaper executives’ heavy focus on paid content as a way of protecting the print product is wasting time and energy that we shoud focus on more productive innovative solutions.  (more…)

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I hope the newspaper tycoons meeting secretly in Chicago this week come up with a clap-your-hands plan.

Because clapping our hands to save the newspaper industry, like we saved Tinkerbell at the movies when we were children, has more chance of succeeding than the paid-content-cartel approach that newspaper executives are dreaming and talking about but being careful not to conspire about. (more…)

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