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Posts Tagged ‘paywalls’

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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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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