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Posts Tagged ‘paid content’

Here’s why I get so angry when smart and influential people in journalism and media operations about charging for content or seeking government subsidies or trying to protect and control their content: We keep falling further behind.

Everything you do takes time and energy and communicates priorities. You can mouth lip service about innovation, but if you spend your time and energy seeking ways to move backward, you don’t really innovate. Your own staff doesn’t take you seriously and the people trying to innovate get discouraged and don’t get the resources you need. (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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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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