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Media News Trying To Make Its Website Both More And Less Valuable At The Same Time

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Romenesko is running an interesting memo from newspaper publisher Media News on its plans to adapt to the internet era (a bit late for that, right?). There are some interesting suggestions in there, but what struck me is how Media News is trying to make its online property both more valuable on the one hand, and less valuable on the other. It talks about taking away content from the online site and forcing people to buy newspapers:
We will begin to move away from putting all of our newspaper content online for free. Instead, we will explore a variety of premium offerings that apply real value to our print content. We are not trying to invent new premium products, but instead tell our existing print readers that what they are buying has real value, and to our online audience (who don’t buy the print edition), that if you want access to all online content, you are going to have to register, and/or pay.
Note the problem? It's in that third sentence, where Media News claims it's going to tell users that print newspapers have value. Commerce doesn't work that way. You don't tell your customers what has value, they tell you. All you can do is focus on providing more value. So, this first step seems to be a mistake. It's taking away value from the online property in an effort to try to convince people that the paper has more value, rather than actually increasing the value of the product.

Separately, however, the organization is looking to provide more tools and value online -- recognizing that their online site is not just "the newspaper on the web," but that it allows totally new things to occur -- including more detailed local information and community-enabling tools. That's good... but considering the talk of locking up other content, it makes you wonder how far Media News will actually go. It sounds like they're trying to do two contradicting things at once -- which seems likely to make sure the more important one (providing more value) fails.

Filed Under: journalism, newspapers
Companies: media news


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  • identicon
    Gunnar, 13 May 2009 @ 3:13am

    I work for a Media News-owned paper. This fills me with a little hope and a lot of dread.

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

  • identicon
    Thomas, 13 May 2009 @ 4:51am

    clueless

    They clearly don't understand what's happening. So news site X says you now have to pay to see what you used to get for free, what do you do? You start going to news site Y instead.

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

  • identicon
    Haywood, 13 May 2009 @ 5:41am

    ads

    One of the reasons I used to buy a paper was for the ads. My local paper at this point gives free access to the ads online. That is good business, as they charge for some of the ads and more eyeballs are good. Say they stop this access, I suspect more of the ads will go to Craig's list.

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

  • identicon
    Roger, 13 May 2009 @ 6:37am

    Desperate measures

    Traditional newspaper business models are dead. Why buy a paper when you can get breaking news on Twitter? Why buy a paper when you can get insightful analyses from thousands of blogs? Same with advertising.

    You are right, newspapers need to listen to consumers, understand what they are willing to pay for, and to provide it better than anyone else.

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

  • identicon
    Dave Barnes, 13 May 2009 @ 7:02am

    Crazy Dinky

    Dinky Singleton is completely nutso. As a subscriber to one of his print newspapers (the Denver Post), I hardly ever visit the online site. It is difficult to navigate and contains almost nothing that I cannot get elsewhere.

    As for his "local.com". Has he not heard of Westword or Yelp or Twitter or Facebook or Colorado Pols? YourHub.com has been an utter failure, who can believe that MediaNews can create a local presence?

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

    • identicon
      Gunnar, 13 May 2009 @ 7:17am

      Re: Crazy Dinky

      "It is difficult to navigate and contains almost nothing that I cannot get elsewhere."

      Tell me about it.

      When we "redesigned" our website, we had to pick from a handful of Media News's templates. Nearly everything on our front page is done through rss feeds because their database is useless. The result is an ugly page that we have very little control over.

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

  • identicon
    YouAreWrong, 13 May 2009 @ 11:00am

    i usually don't agree with mike

    but he's spot on here.

    the [successful] news industry is two tiered. the top tier sells news with access to a community. the bottom tier sells just the news. there are a whole lot more of the bottom tier than the top, and these guys are in the bottom. unless every single news outlet erected the paywall simultaneously, there's no way they can win because people just go elsewhere. and if they do all erect a paywall simultaneously, you're looking at a sherman act violation. even then, it's like when professors in school said they'd do a fixed curve no matter how the students did. just by the shear number of people in the room, there's no way everyone would purposely do poorly.

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


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