Of Rocket Science And Making Money On Journalism

Further to yesterday’s post on how newspapers ought to expand their definition of news to make money comes this post by Steve Outing, suggesting such a strategy:

The way for newspapers to charge for content is not rocket science.
They must create new types of high-value, probably niche, content,
communities, and/or services that are unique enough that people will be
willing to pay for them. That’s tricky when your newspaper has laid off
a big chunk of its editorial staff. But if it’s shedded stuff that
others do better on the web — no more local movie critic, TV editor,
books editor, etc. — then perhaps there can be room to rethink what a
“newspaper” is about and start creating new content and services that
break out of the newspaper box.

Newspapers have already lost many of the things they used to do to
national web players that do a better job and can serve local
audiences. The discussion now should be on what new things a newsroom
full of journalists can do that are outside what we’ve known and
valuable enough to get people to pull out their credit cards.

Last week executives from major newspaper chains met secretly (yeah, right) in Chicago to discuss putting their content behind pay walls, taking care of course to not collude on price fixing (of course). So apparently by the end of the year several chains will ask us to pay to read their product. There have been many critiques of this idea (Scott Rosenberg has a great roundup here). Outing also makes a great observation about the faultiness of the conceptual thinking behind pay-per-view:

In an era when people expect news to reach them in many ways, in many
formats, and on many devices, it’s anachronistic to return to
publishing news on one medium primarily and handicapping distribution
on digital media forms, like the web, where different rules apply.

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