Are you ready to pay for news stories?

Last year I wrote that quality news cannot continue to be free. This year, a lot of people seem to agree.
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor
Last year I wrote that quality news cannot continue to be free. This year, a lot of people seem to agree.

News is not a commodity, it just seems that way because it has been offered for free. News releases (press releases or social media releases) are a commodity, and freely available because they aren't "news stories," they are one-sided communications from corporations or their agents.

There is a growing realization that the right business model for newspapers is to charge money for the news. There is a lot of debate about how to do it, if it should be micro-payments, or if it should be a subscription for a package of news, or some other method.

The most important thing is that there is a broad realization that the free news business model is not viable. Whether we like it or not, some of the news, at least from quality news organizations, will no longer be free.

Some say they won't pay for it, they'll get it their news from bloggers, from other sources on the Internet. That's fine, that's their choice, people can try their luck looking at free news on the Internet and figuring out if they trust the source. If they have time on their hands, they can research if a news story is true, or has been "hacked," and if it can be trusted.

I believe that there will be enough people that will want to save time and go straight to a trusted source and pay for the news. That's the beauty of the Internet, it is not "either," it's "and."

Please see:

Brill's secret plan to save the New York Times and journalism itself

A business model that is based uniquely on expensive editorial quality but that derives revenue only from advertisers who only indirectly use or pay for that quality is a business model that cannot work. There is simply no example, not one – in print, on line, in television – of quality content offered for free ever resulting in a viable business.

Let's talk about the economics of great journalism

Media innovation cannot be dependent on advertisers, they will not take the risk. Innovation must find a foothold with people who demand that great news be available.

Can the Press Fix Itself? | American Journalism Review

Brill is absolutely convinced of the soundness of his opinion — publishers have to raise their self-esteem, treasure what they do and get righteous about charging for it on the Internet. It's not the answer to how the press could have fixed itself a decade ago. For Brill, it's the answer to what needs to be done today.

New York Times, Other Newspapers Should Charge for Online News Content - John A. Farrell (usnews.com)

This is capitalism, folks. Nothing worth something is free. A free press is worth 15 cents a day.

Cloud Journalism and the Fate of Beats

Jobs -- including jobs in journalism -- just aren't what they used to be. Earlier this week, consultant Robert Patterson observed after reviewing trends in unemployment statistics that "the idea of a 'job' as a full-time object that can support a person or even a family, is disappearing."

Printing The NYT Costs Twice As Much As Sending Every Subscriber A Free Kindle

Not that it's anything we think the New York Times Company should do, but we thought it was worth pointing out that it costs the Times about twice as much money to print and deliver the newspaper over a year as it would cost to send each of its subscribers a brand new Amazon Kindle instead.

New York Times (NYT): Subscriptions Are A Great Idea!

Two weeks ago, we detailed our plan to save the New York Times (NYT):

* 40% cost cuts by 2010

* Increased print subscription price

* Implement online subscription fee

For the latter, we were roundly blasted by socialist digerati, who regard subscriptions as heresy.

Well, we're glad to see there is intelligent life where it counts--at the New York Times. Editor Bill Keller says the paper is committed to getting consumers to pay for its content and will explore the idea of online subscriptions. We only hope Bill's wisdom finds its way upstairs!

FutureWatch: The End Of The News Aggregators And The Future Of News

We need journalists, editors, sub-editors, photographers, etc, to help maintain high quality standards, to prevent misinformation, and to counter the spin of corporations and governments. We need these vital services as a society, so that we can make decisions about important things, such as the economy, the environment, healthcare, education, war. The quality of our decisions as a society is directly related to the quality of our information, to the quality of our media. Bad information leads to bad decisions. That's why figuring out a viable business model that can support professional media has become an extremely important issue.
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