Monday, February 22, 2010

More cluelessness about journalism answered

Per a survey about how many online readers "expect" free content to stay free, and some comments about that on a LinkedIn journalism group, I offer my extended thoughts:

In my opinion, one key problem at newspapers is the AP has an inherent conflict of interest between its traditional customers and its new ones, the news aggregators. Member papers need to figure out a way to push AP to charge the Googles, MSNBCs, etc., more for content, and to figure out a way to involve Reuters et al in this without collusion.

In my opinion, also, beyond this issue, the AP has been pretty clueless in dealing with a lot of online issues, starting at the top with Dean Singleton.

As for charging for content affecting readership, other surveys show that:
A. Many online readers are "casual" ones;
B. A paywall can be combined with collection of user data, which then allows advertisers to target ads.
C. Apropos the old hardcopy pay model, and contra Fred above, I wouldn't call 20-25 percent of revenue (the tradition for newspapers) "almost free."

Besides paywalls, another solution is simply delayed posting of online content, for as much as, say, 24 hours.

Couple of other comments.

Howard (a blogger who used to be a reporter and is trying to get more paying freelance gigs, and talks about his blog as a "brand" builder): Of course you're not going to get more. The fragmentation of the Net, plus traditional dysfunctionality of the journalism profession salivating for any jobs, have mashed up to feed off each other. Keep giving stuff away, and keep being part of the problem.

Building "brand"? Isn't that about as much a myth as Reaganomics?

Bottom line is, if a newspaper ain't making money on the online portion of its business, priced out separately from its hardcopy business, then it needs to do something to change its business model. This isn't a supermarket able to offer an occasional "loss leader," if you're offering an **ongoing** loss leader. And, spending more on websites, and web editors, in hopes of getting more of those casual readers more involved, ain't the answer.

I don't know which is worse: clueless traditional newspaper management, or possible clueless online newspaper pundits/analysts.

Finally, no duh on the survey. If you asked, 85 percent of ppl getting anything free would want more.

No comments: