Key Economics Lessons For The Digital Era

from the things-to-remember dept

Jeff Jarvis has a series of short notes that he's put together on "hard economic lessons" for the news business, but many of them apply to pretty much any industry -- and it seems worth pointing some of them out for discussion:
  • Tradition is not a business model. The past is no longer a reliable guide to future success.
  • "Should" is not a business model. You can say that people "should" pay for your product but they will only if they find value in it.
  • Virtue is not a business model. Just because you do good does not mean you deserve to be paid for it.
  • Business models are not made of entitlements and emotions. They are made of hard economics. Money has no heart.
  • Begging is not a business model. It's lazy to think that foundations and contributions can solve news' problems. There isn't enough money there.
  • No one cares what you spent. Arguing that news costs a lot is irrelevant to the market.
There's a lot more at the link, much of which I agree with (a few I think are slightly misleading or wrong, but those are outweighed by the ones I do think are dead on). However, these were the key points that resonated the most with me and which I think are good pointers that many in traditional businesses have trouble with. Many of the arguments we hear against the new business models we talk about (or the bad decisions by those legacy businesses) stem from not understanding the six points above.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 5:45am

    You should take his advice to heart. Your blog is a bitch-fest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    It's too bad the NYT didn't read this $40 million ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 6:06am

    Unfortunately BS is a viable business mode for Trump, Jarvis, Mike....

    A long-running business model (protected by free-speech) is to say extreme BS for publicity and profit from the publicity.

    I can't really blame Mike or Clay or Trump for doing it, but it's just a publicity stunt, not wisdom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Re: Unfortunately BS is a viable business mode for Trump, Jarvis, Mike....

    You don't just automatically profit from publicity, you have to have some kind of business model readily available to capture your new, captive audience.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Fickelbra (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    Re:

    So is your comment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Nina Paley (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:14am

    begging to differ

    Begging actually is an OK business model for some. As money accumulates in the hands of the very wealthy few, they need to offload some of it - there are only so many yachts and mansions and petite lap giraffes even the greediest oligarch can maintain interest in. So some of it goes to their favorite "beggars" - charities, NGOs, nonprofits, and artists. Begging may not be a viable business model for news organizations, but it works for many other "content providers" like opera companies and rarified fine artists.

    On another level, people enjoy supporting artists and projects they like, even ordinary people without much money. Giving money to cool projects is a way to participate in them, be connected to them, be a part of them, and it feels good for everyone. That's why crowdfunding works. It doesn't work for everything, of course; but no business model works for everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    "No one cares what you spent. Arguing that news costs a lot is irrelevant to the market. "

    Exactly. I don't care if you spent a million dollars on a toothpick, don't make it my problem. I don't want your IP laws imposed on me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re:

    No one complains more than IP maximists. "I want more IP or else artists will starve!!!" Copy protection lengths are never long enough, infringement damages are never high enough, patents are never ridiculous enough. and when anyone else complains about these absurd laws, you complain about their complaining. You think that you should be the only one allowed to complain.

    Citizens have a right to complain because we pay taxes. This is supposed to be our government and when they misbehave it is our duty to complain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    Of all the points listed above, which one are you accusing Techdirt of?

    Techdirt calls out all sorts of businesses and people for going against those lessons listed. If you want to call that "bitching," go ahead. But it's the people and businesses that ignore those points who do the most bitching.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Re:

    And you, dear sir, do not know the meaning of irony. I fear you live in a rust covered box with iron on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:50am

    Contradicting yourself?

    "Should" is not a business model. You can say that people "should" pay for your product but they will only if they find value in it.

    Mike, you've always made the point that price and value are distinct, so that something can easily have great value, yet no price.

    However, you're statement above contradicts this. Which is it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 7:56am

    Re: Contradicting yourself?

    And the answer is.... RTFA. (Read the [Fine][Fucking] Article)

    "Jeff Jarvis has a series of short notes..."

    these are not by Mike, furthermore mike even points out he doesn't like all of them:

    "much of which I agree with (a few I think are slightly misleading or wrong..."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Ken, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Value in itself is not enough to get people to pay for something. You have to get them to be WILLING to pay. If people can get news for free they are not going to pay for the New York Times unless they are WILLING to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    one better: price and value aren't the same, but people will pay more for things they value, and outright refuse to pay for things they place no value in (because they don't want it) if not compelled by outside forces.

    price =/= value
    in the same way that
    effect =/= cause
    supply =/= demand (the concepts there-of, specifically)

    price is what you ask for something. value is how important having it is to the person you're asking to pay the price. the heigher the price is set, the more the person must value the item in question before the'll pay the price in order to obtain it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    So fucking rude.

    How about you STFU? Capiche?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    I'm just glad your comment is 100% bitch-free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    So fucking rude.

    How about you STFU? Capiche?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Comment supposed to appear under ComputerAddict's obnoxious troll, so I'm not sure why it's appearing under Chargone's comment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Re: Contradicting yourself?

    There's no contradiction there.
    Every item has two values and a price. There's the value the item has to the seller, and the value the object has to the buyer. The price is negotiated between them.
    In order for a sale to occur, the negotiated price must be less than the buyer's value, and greater than the seller's value. If this is not possible, then no sale occurs.
    Your 'contradiction' is simply a case of the seller valuing something higher than the buyer. No sale occurs, no matter how much the seller might want one to occur.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re:

    I never cared for the whole, "because I pay taxes," reasoning for why you deserve a voice. You deserve a voice (an actual impact, that is, rather than an impotent gesture that gets ignored) because you're a citizen.

    The concept of paying taxes reinforces the same mentally amongst the rich and entitled that paying money means you deserve something. "I spent $50,000 on this luxury car, so I own the road!" "I paid lobbyists to push this bill on Congress, so I deserve the benefits that it brings me!"

    If money has anything to do with politics, it's always a bad association because more money equals more influence. If financial contributions to political candidates are free speech, then more money equals more free speech.

    Some rich people actually do pay more taxes than us little guys, but they obviously don't deserve more influence on the government than we do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    It is appearing a child comment to ComputerAddict's annoyed, but completely legitimate criticism that points out aptly that you clearly didn't read or at least comprehend that Mike wasn't the author of the points.

    Chargone responded as well to ComputerAddict's post before you posted anything and therefore his post appears before yours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    "The only thing that matters to the market is value. What is your service worth to the public?

    Value is determined by need. What problem do you solve?"

    These are my big criticisms of modern commerce. People seem to think that advertisements should create demand when they ideally only publicize supply.

    It's like retail store management pushing employees to make more sales. I consider it unethical to pressure people into buying more. If they want or need it, they should be free to decide on their own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Mike, you've always made the point that price and value are distinct, so that something can easily have great value, yet no price.

    There's no contradiction. People won't pay for something unless it has value, but that doesn't mean that if it has value, they'll automatically pay for it. So, yes, something needs to have value if you want people to pay for it. But that doesn't mean value and price are the same thing.

    Does that make sense?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Yes, it does make sense now. Thankyou. :)

    Perhaps it's the way it was worded, but it didn't read right to me initially.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Thanks MrWilson

    Frankly, with a stinking attitude like that, I couldn't give a monkey's whether ComputerAddict was right or not.

    Thanks for the forum clarification. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    "Frankly, with a stinking attitude like that..."

    Pot, meet Kettle...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Nanker Phelge, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    >>>Giving money to cool projects is a way to participate in them, be connected to them, be a part of them

    Do people really think that "giving money to cool projects is a way to participate in them?" Does this really qualify as participation?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 26th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Costs can be a selling point though

    While it might be a bad pitch to say, "We spent $100,000 so you should pay us X dollars," it's very common for people and businesses to say, "Let me explain why what we are doing requires so much money."

    If you are raising money for a child on life support, part of your pitch is probably going to be, "This is so expensive that the family can't afford to pay for it without help from donations."

    Or if you are selling a luxury good, you will likely say, "This item is made from a rare wood that requires a team of 10 people trekking into the wilderness for 9 months to harvest it and bring it back to civilization."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Cynix, Apr 26th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Contradicting yourself?

    Nope.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This