Newspaper Experiments With New Paid Content Model

from the pay-up dept

As newspapers struggle to transform their business models for the internet, one model that doesn’t appear too promising is that favored by the New York Times, with its TimesSelect offering. The hope that it can charge extra for online access to its most popular columnists hasn’t earned the company a lot of money, while costing them valuable readership and influence. The Sacramento Bee will begin experimenting with a slightly different model, as it puts premium content about California state politics <a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/29/business/media/29bee.html?ex=1327726800&en=16515693431ab9ec&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss”>behind an expensive $499/year paywall. The service will be marketed towards lobbyist firms, and other professionals with a vested interest in political issues. The above New York Times story discussing the Sacramento Bee’s strategy compares it to TimesSelect, but it actually seems a bit smarter. The paper isn’t going to put any existing content behind a paywall; instead subscribers will get extra content, along with early access to the paper’s articles, which for those who are involved in state politics could be very useful. There’s no reason a newspaper company has to limit itself just to a general news product. If it has a unique angle on an industry or something that can’t be replicated elsewhere, then it makes sense to offer more products that play to its strengths. At $499 it’s still going to have a tough time proving its value, but since the intended customers are mainly going to be businesses, that may not be as tough as it would seem.


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Comments on “Newspaper Experiments With New Paid Content Model”

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5 Comments
W.B. McNamara (profile) says:

Even in the absence of a

It is a really interesting idea: if we think of newspaper companies as “organizations that employ people who have talent and training for finding, analyzing, and presenting information” rather than “organizations that produce newspapers” this makes a great deal of sense.

If my (admittedly limited) experience is an indicator, newspapers direct a meaningful chunk of resources towards trimming down the content that they produce into “all the news that’s fit to print,” to coin a phrase. Taking some articles and analysis that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day and trying to turn them into a new revenue stream is a nice take on the situation.

As you note, it’s most compelling for a subset of information that’s likely to be of value to people with money (i.e. “interest groups” in the most abstract sense), but since that can encompass a lot of companies, action groups, and what-have-you, there’s a potential large-ish niche audience for many different kinds of information.

DV Henkel-Wallace (profile) says:

Re: Even in the absence of a

Excellent thought, McNamara. If I understand what you’re thinking of, the old newspaper model is dead, but the newer one is somewhere between a professional blog and a monthly magazine.

Too bad so many of the old newspaper folks are confusing medium and message. Mike could hire some professional reporters and nuke the ‘times!

E says:

I wonder what happens to the ‘freedom of the press’ when it’s content is freely obtained, yet the access to it isn’t.

I’m sure news media obtains access to ‘news’ at a cost (ie: exclusive interviews, costly investigations, etc….), but when they start charging for that information unevenly, they start looking more like a business and less of a public service.

This model probably works ok for politics, but would never fly for business and stocks…

-E

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