22
   

Are you willing to pay for access to online news?

 
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 06:54 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
since Murdoch (like most other large news proprietors) is primarily concerned with making as big a profit as possible

So yes, there'll still be a lot of free online news material available, but it's the quality & diversity (& perhaps accuracy) of the reporting & commentary that will suffer (in my opinion).


do you think Murdoch's papers/websites provide better quality/diverse/accurate news than sources like the BBC/NPR/CBC?

I certainly don't. I think the best reporters have been with public broadcasters for decades.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 06:59 pm
@Eorl,
Wink

Yeah, yeah..

But ya know, Eorl, when quality journalists jobs do start vanishing, the reporting we receive on the ABC (in Oz) might not be as good, or as professional, in the future. (Besides, the ABC has been known to "pick the bones" of excellent o/seas news coverage of world events. Wink )
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 07:15 pm
@ehBeth,
Quote:
do you think Murdoch's papers/websites provide better quality/diverse/accurate news than sources like the BBC/NPR/CBC?

I certainly don't. I think the best reporters have been with public broadcasters for decades.


I think the quality Murdoch's media contributions "vary", ehBeth. News Corporation's outlets vary quite a bit, depending on the different audiences he can make a buck from, I guess.

I agree with you on the quality of public broadcasters (re news & current affairs), here in Oz, anyway. Can't really comment on the rest of the world. But, many of the the ABC's journalists here have worked in both the public & private sectors. I guess I'm concerned about the impact on the profession across the board.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 07:35 pm
@msolga,
msolga asked:

Quote:
Are you willing to pay for access to online news?


No.

And I don't care how much clout brother Rupert has. I buy a standard newspaper daily. What news I get online is incidental. If I had to pay for it online, I'd just start watching TV news which I do now only if I'm following a particular fast-breaking story.

News online isn't worth paying for.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 10:13 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
So, if many newspapers do go out of business, what happens to these journalists & our access to quality reporting?


It's not going away, it's moving. It's not like the newspaper industry has been making the bulk of their money from their consumers anyway. Their solution has never been to charge for the content, they made their money by selling ads on their content themselves. What is changing is that advertising is increasingly moving online, and the online medium is one they don't get as well as newer companies do and they insist on doing stupid things like trying to charge for subscriptions instead of just figuring out how the internet works.

Old world media is going to have to turn into new world media or they'll be left behind. They are going to have to be more agile companies because the online ad-supported business model is one of lower margins and greater scale. They can't compete with free by trying to wall their gardens. The switching cost for their readers is a mouse click, they need to by hyper-competitive to survive online. The overwhelming majority of them simply are not of sufficient quality to merit paying for versus tolerating ads on. What are they going to do? Cover news that nobody else knows about? Get exclusive interviews? The quality of the writing is something that plenty of free sites are going to be able to match, so only absolute authorities in their niche (e.g. WSJ, trade publications) get away with charging subscriptions.

The bottom line is that most of the ways they made money are things that are much better served online. Their job post classifieds are obsolete when you compare them to online job boards. Heck, any of their classifieds are obsolete when you compare them to online classifieds, their ad rates are insane compared to the ROI you can get online (I'm taking orders of magnitude of difference).

Online they are faced with people who do those things better than them and because the operating costs of online publishing are so much lower there are people willing to operate much lower margin businesses. You have businesses like craigslist, who aren't interested in maximizing their profits and are fine with eating their collective lunch for very little. You have portals like Yahoo who were early to the game and are major news publishers. You have job boards who have already entrenched themselves online. You have a much more efficient ad platform in search and text link ads from folks like Google and Yahoo.

What happened to the old world media was that they resisted this fundamental change for too long. Their first instinct was to wall their online gardens and that let other sites like Yahoo establish the clear lead in online news. The ad-supported business model on the internet is shaking up a lot of industries and you'll get to see this happen to radio and television next.

They must innovate or die. Walling their gardens won't even put off their death and I'd be a very unhappy shareholder to hear them talk about that as their strategy in this day and age. They need to make bold online moves themselves or partner with online giants (see this article on the Yahoo Ad Consortium) to get through this. Pretending their journalism is so damned good that people are going to line up to pay for it online is to try to fight the tide. This is a fundamental cultural shift (think "Video killed the radio star") that is only just beginning, they need to figure it out or they'll die off to those who do.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Aug, 2009 10:22 pm
@msolga,
Yeah, but it's only newspapers that face extinction, and why shouldn't they? Aren't we all encouraged not to print material we could just read and store electronically? It's just Murdoch not realising that news has been democratised and can't be controlled as easily as it once was. His only chance of success is to buy the entire worldwide communications infrastructure and pocket the charge for access. Or to just use advertising revenue like some newspapers do.
0 Replies
 
budding layman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 21 Aug, 2009 05:17 pm
@BillRM,
This sounds like a 'justification' 'benefit' of the future version of a controlled censored web. Surely its ludicrous to pay for any cartel news when the media is servicing corporations rather than the readers? Why do you pay to hear what they need to tell you? If you didnt buy it, it would be free.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 31 Aug, 2009 11:09 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Here is a great article about the future of newspapers that contains this useful graph:

http://www.niemanlab.org/images/Share-of-market-4908.PNG

This isn't about quality journalism at all, this is about the shifting of media empires. It used to be that newspapers were the gods of media (remember how comic book characters like Jimmy Olsen from Superman used to work for newspapers? That is because it was cool back then.) but the medium is losing influence and has been for years (first to TV, then to the internet).

If they want to survive they need to fight (on the internet) for market share. They lost it by being slow to move online, and they aren't going to get it back by charging (they never made their money this way, and they aren't going to).

I agree with the article author's conclusion:

Quote:
While it’s fine to continue milking the print side for whatever profits it may still yield, that “brighter future” should be focused on building vibrant new 2010 models of those digital platforms to begin rebuilding market share in a post-newspaper world. Newspapers have stood by while many others have built a world of digital media and digital commerce. The time for newspapers to become digital news enterprises is now, and it’s their only hope.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Sep, 2009 12:52 am
@Robert Gentel,
Thanks very much for that, Robert. I won't comment till I've had a chance to read the article properly & also closely scrutinized that graph. Judging by the quote you posted, it sounds a very interesting read!
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Sep, 2009 06:21 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:
Paying for news isn't going mainstream unless something like micropayments becomes mainstream.



And Google is apparently developing a micropayments platform.

Google is seen by a lot of the newspapers as a big reason they are losing revenue, which is true in the sense that Google dominates the internet, and the internet is eating into traditional media. Google has been trying to figure out how to help newspapers, here is another article on this latest effort, at the bottom of which are many other articles on the Google/newspapers relationships.
0 Replies
 
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Sep, 2009 06:29 pm
I am willing to pay very little, and only if the content is great AND the ads and other BS disappears. Even then $100 a year is all that I could justify, and that is with me using it a lot.

Right now there is nothing that I would be willing to pay for, it would need to be much better than what we have.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 02:26 pm
Quote:
Washington - Readers would be willing to pay small monthly amounts for online news, according to an international survey released Monday.

Americans were at the bottom of the list of what they would be willing to pay, at 3 dollars a month, compared to Italians who would pay the top fee of 7 dollars a month, the Boston Consulting Group reported in its survey.
BCG questioned 5,083 people in an internet survey that also included Germany, Australia, France, Britain, Spain, Norway and Finland.

Forty-eight per cent of regular internet users said they would pay to read news online, including on mobile devices, according to the New York Times report on the survey. In some western European countries, more than 60 per cent would pay.

"The good news is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, consumers are willing to pay for meaningful content," said John Rose, BCG's head of global media studies.

"The bad news is that they are not willing to pay much," he added.

The print media industry has been dogged by the question of survival for several years as it suffered a drastic drop in advertising, not only because of rivalry from the internet but also due to the recession. Major papers such as The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have laid off hundreds of journalists in the past two years.

Advertising accounts for about 80 per cent of newspaper revenues.
BCG found that consumers had priorities for what they would pay for: unique information, such as local news; timely delivery, such as in a continual news alert system; and convenience of access, on a device of choice.
Source

BCG Press Release
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Nov, 2009 05:00 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Dreamers if they think anyone will pay for news online survey or no survey.

Get the funds with online ADVs.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  6  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 05:04 am
I was too busy to post this last week, but it seems like the New York times is going to try charging for online news again.

The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site

Quote:
Starting in January 2011, a visitor to NYTimes.com will be allowed to view a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the print newspaper, even those who subscribe only to the Sunday paper, will receive full access to the site without any additional charge.

Executives of The New York Times Company said they wanted to create a system that would have little effect on the millions of occasional visitors to the site, while trying to cash in on the loyalty of more devoted readers. But fundamental features of the plan have not yet been decided, including how much the paper will charge for online subscriptions or how many articles a reader will be allowed to see without paying.


This "metered" approach is one of the more intelligent ways of approaching this, because the repeat users are less valuable in terms of online advertising. They develop "banner blindness" in that they become so used to site layout that they don't look around enough to notice unobtrusive ads and so repeat users don't tend to click on ads. Advertisers don't like showing the same person the same ad more than they want to so they also end up going deeper and deeper into ad inventory the more they use the site. At some point the heavy user may reach a point where there are no paid ads to display to them.

Cutting them off at some point means you charge your biggest fans (most likely to convert) but you don't touch your most valuable (for ads) readers and the open content still invites links and other cross promotion on the web (though the NY Times could do much better about this, and have historically annoyed with registration requirements). The trick is about still being open enough not to see the rest of the web stop linking in to you (if I know that you can't see the article without paying for it I won't send you this link, I will send you one that I know you can see for free) and this approach may well strike that balance.

But it will still have an impact on them, as there will be many users just around their thresholds that will just stop using the site once they get hit by the meter maid a couple of times. And folks who understand how it works will be less inclined to link to the potentially "walled garden". The web is built around being open and being closed on the web is going to come at some cost. It remains to be seen if the NY Times has enough differentiation (like the WSJ does) to charge and get away with it, even though they are a newspaper of record. I suspect that on some level they must accept the end of the old-world media heyday where large audiences were concentrated on few outlets. The openness means more options, and now that their readers aren't limited to a couple of local papers at most they simply don't have the information market cornered anymore.

The NY Times probably made over 100 million dollars in the last year just online. And they are still wringing their hands trying to find ways to survive. No matter what they try to do to raise their revenue I think they need to adapt to changing realities where the newspaper now competes on a more open landscape of information and where the increases market competition has driven costs down for the consumer and advertiser.

The internet is a more efficient information exchange and a more efficient economy, their old-world indulgences need to die off. They can't expect to as easily dominate the information market to the point where they can build corporate empires. What does owning part of multi-million dollar sports teams and stadiums have to do with good journalism? The New York Times company has a piece of the Red Sox, Fenway Park, and are a business empire from an age where cost of entry and operating costs kept information options fewer.

Their revenue is dipping, but I don't buy the fears about quality journalism going by the wayside. They collect about 3 billion a year in revenue, and are simply old-world inefficient if they act like they can't produce quality journalism for much less than that.

The 100 million I estimate their online units to have made is alone enough to produce quality journalism online with its lower operating costs in my opinion. This isn't about the death of journalism but the death of the media moguls who could buy monopolies on information and the death of the trappings that such a position of power affords. There will be some ugly spots in the transition but the end user's information needs will ultimately be better served, even if some big old-world names go down in flames.

Edit: anyone who is interested in the media transition should check out the Nieman Journalism Lab, which describes itself as "a collaborative attempt to figure out how quality journalism can survive and thrive in the Internet age."

They have an article on this story that also touches on other potential developments (namely the suspected launch of an Apple tablet device on Wednesday that some argue is aimed at becoming the middle man for old world media like magazines (where it can shine above the Kindle), newspapers and books.

Here's their roundup of the big NY Times news:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/01/this-week-in-review-the-new-york-times-paywall-plans-and-whats-behind-medianews-bankruptcy/

And here is the WSJ on the Apple tablet rumors:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703405704575015362653644260.html

By the way, if you ever get hit by a WSJ paywall just search Google for the article title and click on it from there. They want the traffic from Google but Google requires that they let the user see the content instead of a paywall through the terms of the indexing program they are using to get their content indexed on Google (and get the traffic from Google, of course).

http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/01/this-week-in-review-the-new-york-times-paywall-plans-and-whats-behind-medianews-bankruptcy/
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 06:25 am
@Robert Gentel,
Interesting development, Robert.

It'll be interesting to see if any of the other major papers follow suit.
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 06:33 am
@msolga,
My opinion it will go down in flame.

They enjoy a hell of a lot less overhead then in a print edition and therefore should be able to pay the bills with advs alone and it they can not do so then they should sell the name to a firm who can.

Most likely in any case they are trying to bleed the online operation to support the print operation and that is a loss-loss idea.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 06:42 am
@BillRM,
My hunch is that really seriously committed NYT readers would buy it. People with specialized interests. Though I can't see this being anything but a fairly smallish percentage of their readership.

I think it'll depend on what extras they receive by subscribing, compared casual readers.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 07:42 am
@Robert Gentel,
I thought this was interesting when I heard about it on the radio a while back. I realized that I haven't gone to the NYT website in quite some time.
I used to spend a lot of time there - it's of course what took me to Abuzz to begin with. I read a lot at the NYT site at one point.

I've reverted back to getting most of my news through the radio. I couldn't even determine when I'd last picked up news from an online source when I first heard the news about the NYT plan . I obviously read commentary when I come here - but it's not what I'd consider a news source.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 08:51 am
@msolga,
Msolga beside my local paper, CNN and Time Magazine, I get my news on google.com/news site opening one tab after another as I go down their main news page.


Links from there sometimes results in my going to NYT or the Wall Street Journey but I sure would not read either paper in whole and have zero interest in paying them to do so.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Mon 25 Jan, 2010 10:57 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
My hunch is that really seriously committed NYT readers would buy it. People with specialized interests. Though I can't see this being anything but a fairly smallish percentage of their readership.

I think it'll depend on what extras they receive by subscribing, compared casual readers.


No real extras according to the rumor mill, they considered an NPR membership model but threw it out due to the cost of the extras. Oh, full archive access might be considered an extra. That is something one of their execs said they'd be tossing in.

But the way it is shaping up to look is that they will charge about $5/month for full access to their site. Users will get X free article reads a month (probably something like 10) if they go directly to the site but if they are linked to from elsewhere (e.g. google) they can read the article without it counting towards their free quota.

And as to how many of their users will subscribe I bet up to half a million will. They previously ran something similar where parts of their site were pay only (I believe it was mostly the opinion pieces) and they had over 200,000 subscribers.

The problem with this whole model is that they could get almost a million subscribers at $5 per month and it would still be about half of what they currently make selling ads. Even the NY Times admits that this won't have a significant impact on their finances even if their projections are right and that this is about going where they think the web is going.

I think they are making a big mistake. Here are some others arguing the same:

Quote:
New York Times Ready to Charge Online Readers

The decision to go paid is monumental for the Times, and culminates a yearlong debate that grew contentious, people close to the talks say. In favor of a paid model were Keller and managing editor Jill Abramson. Nisenholtz and former deputy managing editor Jon Landman, who was until recently in charge of nytimes.com, advocated for a free site.
The argument for remaining free was based on the belief that nytimes.com is growing into an English-language global newspaper of record, with a vast audience " 20 million unique readers " that, Nisenholtz and others believed, would prove lucrative as web advertising matured. (The nytimes.com homepage, for example, has sold out on numerous occasions in the past year.) As other papers failed to survive the massive migration to the web, the Times would be the last man standing and emerge with even more readers. Going paid would capture more circulation revenue, but risk losing significant traffic and with it ad dollars. At an investor conference this fall, Nisenholtz alluded to this tension: "At the end of the day, if we don't get this right, a lot of money falls out of the system."


From an interview with Vivian Schiller, ex-general manager of NYTimes.com and current CEO of NPR

Quote:
While employed by The New York Times , you helped the newspaper stop charging for online content. Now it's reconsidering. Generally, why do you oppose paying for content?
I am a staunch believer that people will not in large numbers pay for news content online. It's almost like there's mass delusion going on in the industry"They're saying we really really need it, that we didn't put up a pay wall 15 years ago, so let's do it now. In other words, they think that wanting it so badly will automatically actually change the behavior of the audience. The world doesn't work that way. Frankly, if all the news organizations locked pinkies, and said we're all going to put up a big fat pay wall, you know what, more traffic for us (NPR). News is a commodity; I'm sorry to say.

But the Times did get people to pay, right?
We far exceeded our expectation"225,000 subscribers paid $50 a year, in addition to the home delivery subscribers, who got all of the Web for free. But guess what, that's $10 million. Instead of 225,000 who pay the $50, let's say it's one million subscribers. OK. That's $50 million a year. That's not going to save any newspaper. It's going to kill your advertising base. The numbers don't work.

What must they do?
I believe the national newspapers are going to be fine. The New York Times and the news site are profitable. There's a misconception that New York Times loses money. It makes a lot of money. For national newspapers like the Times or the Wall Street Journal, there's still a lot of money there. So [the Times is] trying figure out their [debt-repayment] problems. I think they'll have to probably cut more expenses, undoubtedly. They are not going to go under. The quality isn't going to take a nosedive.


She hits the nail on the head. They make plenty of money to do journalism, the problem is the billion dollars in debt that the NY Times has from doing a lot more than just journalism.
 

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