Media Watchers Beginning To Ask Why People Would Pay For Online Journalism

from the about-time dept

Ever since the latest round of newspaper paywall/micropayment suggestions have come up, we've been asking why none of the newspapers/reporters pushing these plans can explain what added value will make people buy. And that's because almost none of them are actually thinking about this. They just keep thinking that if they add a mechanism to get people to pay, that people will magically pay, rather than go elsewhere. The problem, of course, is that readers have made it clear: if their local paper charges for online access, they'll just go elsewhere.

The newspapers, like the recording industry, seem to be under the delusion that they're somehow owed money from consumers, rather than needing to actually give them a reason to buy. Mathew Ingram points us to a Columbia Journalism Review article by Jan Schaffer that finally makes this point by saying it's time to look at the demand side of these newspaper business models, while noting that the problem isn't a lack of paywalls, but a lack of interest in what is called "journalism" these days:
In looking to reconstruct journalism, I'd start not by asking how do we get money for what we've always done. I'd ask instead: How do we provide something worth paying for? As a long-time news consumer, I have recoiled at much of what we are rendering as "journalism."

What if it's not just the business model of journalism that is broken? What if the way we are doing our journalism is broken, too? How are some of the new media makers trying to fix that?
None of this is particularly new, but it's great to see CJR finally realize that's the issue, rather than how to best structure the paywall.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Oct 20th, 2009 @ 3:39am

    There's a demand for news, but not for copies

    News is an entirely different animal to newspapers. Just as music is different from CDs, and movies from DVDs.

    The incumbents are busy trying to figure out how to sell copies, or 'pay to view'/'pay to listen', but they really need to sell what the customer can't easily do/make and hasn't got. The customers can view, listen, and copy, so it's a bit stupid trying to sell them that.

    Producers of the news should sell their product, i.e. the news. Just as musicians should sell their music.

    The days of selling copies have ended. The market for copies has ended. The market for intellectual work continues.

     

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  2.  
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    ChiliCheezeDog, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 4:57am

    Dinosaur mantra

    If we charge, they will come

     

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  3.  
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    Jeff, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Newspaper's lost me along time ago...

    The poor journalism lost me long ago. A Friend of mine was killed in a car accident, and reading the 2 local papers about the accident along with the police report you would have thought it was 3 different accidents.

     

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  4.  
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    Eric, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 5:01am

    Harder equals less customers..

    I won't even go to a news site that makes me sign in, let alone pay.

     

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  5.  
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    Fungo Knubb, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 5:05am

    Pay For Propaganda?

    The news gathering/reporting business has drastically changed from just gathering/reporting events to omitting/fabricating events.

    I'm tired of finding out that a key piece of information was omitted from a news story because it didn't "fit" the political agenda of the journalist/news agency, or that a "key" piece of information was fabricated to better make the story more in line with the political "thought police" of the news reporting entity. I wouldn't pay a penny for any of it!

    I would pay for objective news reporting no matter whose political agenda got trampled on, but alas the word "journalist" has become synonymous with "propagandist", so I've given up on even trying to find such a web site.

    Until credibility becomes the foremost goal of the various collection of journalists across the land, I'll fall back to what my grandfather used to say ... "I'd rather be uninformed than misinformed. The first state means that I've got a 50/50 chance of making the wrong decision, whereas the second state means that I'll almost always make the wrong one." Thanks, but no thanks, ... I'll keep my money.

     

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    thomas, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 6:41am

    Propaganda for sure!

    Given how much the news agencies lie and distort, why would I pay for it? You can go to several sites to find out about a story, and sometimes I could swear that they are reporting totally different stories. The days when journalism meant truthful reporting are long gone.

     

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  7.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Journalism and "content"

    Excellent blog (and underlying article).

    I saw what the article discussed this morning; on TV they were talking about asthma and swine flu. The commentator made a big thing about the dangers of the two, and asked a doctor (who was very photogenic, but seemed competent - I wonder which trait got her on the program?) to confirm what she said. The doctor said it was true "for asthma that is exacerbated".
    How many people would know that means "only the one in 100 with SEVERE asthma are dangerously at risk"?

    If that's journalism, I don't need it. Lying to me is not nice.

     

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    Online Shopping, Oct 20th, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Pay for Journalism

    I wouldn't pay for journalism. The news isn't even real anymore. It's all fake

     

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 20th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Journalism? Wjhere?

    A great deal of what passes for journalism is the sport of "Gotcha" where the media waits for a something to happen (or not) and yells "GOTCHA!" Far easier to do with GW Bush, I admit and perhaps more fun for "reporters" but journalism it ain't.

    Since Watergate the political media has decided that it and only it is the valid opposition to government. Not Congress or Parliament. The media. And why not? Don't we all trust them and keep buying the increasingly ad filled daily newspaper?

    For the most part now the news media looks and sounds more like colour commentary at sports events -- vapid remarks with little or no interest in uncomfortable things like facts. Could be Glen Beck, could be network supper hour news. In that sense it's all the same. Only the volume is different.

    News treated and reported on as if it's a sports event. The requirement, it seems, for so called journalists to have "if it bleeds it leads" tatooed behind their eyeballs right under "it doesn't matter what else is happening get a story on that 10th rate celeb"! All passed to us as serious news as opposed to checkstand "news".

    Problem? They all look the same these days.

    Oh? Economics reporting? I'm supposed to believe the same media who told me right up until it was plain as day to anyone with eyes that the economy had tanked in the fall of 2008 that it wasn't gonna happen? The same bunch that are telling us now how wonderfully it's all turning around?

    Right.

    And pay them to access their vapid, error filled, slanted and cynical web sites?

    Nahh.

    I'll pass.

    ttfn

    John

     

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