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This has been in everyone’s mind: how to make journalism a profitable business? Ads, paywalls, premium and freemium contents, there have been many options, but none seems to be working. Murdoch builds walls while others [DDET tear them down.]
Recently Johnston Press decided to give up their paywall since the subscription numbers were appalling, in the single or low double digits.
The stakes are high, and yet everyone is showing how bad poker players they are, going all in when they don’t have to.
The biggest problem is that there aren’t many users willing to pay for information they know they can get for free someplace else or that is not important for them. I’m not, for sure. Besides, most of the content news websites have to offer could be in print and my experience as a news consumer would be exactly the same, so why bother? So, how to keep those who want the free stuff, but how to profit from the content generated by journalists?
Imagine that you own a news content production company, and you have a team of talented people who can make good journalism, using [DDET different narratives;]
video, audio, charts, maps, or mixed interactive content, like audioslides, mashups, etc;
Imagine you have those people willing to engage and participate with the community, not only to dig for stories or disseminate their work, but to enrich the community member’s experience with information about the process, or [DDET personal views on the matter;]
I think that transparency and time are two valuable items, and that time is the most valuable of them. Communities are part of the newsrooms’ life whether we like it or not, both in the construction and the distribution process. Journalists are the quarterback/midfielder (choose metaphor according to origin) of the news process, receiving the ball and creating options and deciding part of its course, although when it’s out of its hands/feet they should still be focused on the game but let the ball go. The rest of the team is community and the goal is to inform, and like in a real game there are less players than passive audience. I’m still working on this specific metaphor.
Still, people would be part of it, pitch their own stories, creating a crowdsourced model within a traditional news structure.
Imagine you have tools that allow you to add context or media or extra information like raw bulks of data and that your reporters know how to build an online article with all its basic features but also with extra content that enriches the knowledge and experience of the user, using your own archives, other people’s archives, other websites that you found relevant to the story, ongoing conversations on Twitter and Facebook, ;
Imagine that. And think how you can do all of those things, with the same time, trained to deliver the basic and the ultimate news content. And consider to make some of that ultimate content available for free, just like the basic takeaway content you have. And ask people to pay a fee for the rest, and allow them to embed videos, slideshows, audio in their own websites, and help them look cool in their community because you create cool content. You don’t need to charge much because you are building a brand. The light bulb was sold below production price in the beginning because it was something everyone would use, and after a while, production costs lowered because there was a lot of demand, and then there was profit.
So this is how I perceive the future of the business will be, a mix between several models, that favors smaller endeavors than juggernauts, and based on quality and engagement, and new ways to create traditional content, in a contextualized way.
So, a rough example would be:
[DDET When,] tell if the situation is still ongoing and you can read more about it here (linked to related article) or it had a previous related event to which we will also link to or show the related media, or even better a timeline of the events [/DDET][DDET what happened,] specific details, more pictures, detailed info, background info [/DDET] where , who was involved, [DDET how] yes free yourself! [/DDET]and a basic WHY (that could be expanded to whatever you’d like). If it looks short to you, well, most of the info people read out of articles is all in the first paragraphs, where the w’s and h are.
People would have to pay for the contextual information in the expandable items. This doesn’t mean the free content would be poor, but that the extended content would be really rich.
I confess this is inspired/stolen from Kevin Sablan’s post, and he says context is personal. I say it’s valuable, and providing an experience through information is profitable. It is technically possible and with better results than i presented, and when you have algorithms gathering and producing readable information, it is wise to reconsider the whole news process, how information is collected, analyzed, produced and distributed, and do it in a way people can use it and be willing to pay for at the same time.
Did you clicked in all the links in this post? Why would you? And if you did, how different was your experience? Are you going back to click a few? I know you will now.
So, what do you think?