Thursday 5 February 2009

How to save your newspaper: pay for content

In article for Time magazine called 'How to Save Your Newspaper', Walter Isaacson says the way for the press to survive is charge for its online content.
Isaacson argues it has worked in music with iTunes so why not for online content? and not only for material produced by the traditional press but also that provided by bloggers and citizen journalists.
He writes: "Under a micropayment system, a newspaper might decide to charge a nickel for an article or a dime for that day's full edition or $2 for a month's worth of Web access. Some surfers would balk, but I suspect most would merrily click through if it were cheap and easy enough.
"The system could be used for all forms of media: magazines and blogs, games and apps, TV newscasts and amateur videos, porn pictures and policy monographs, the reports of citizen journalists, recipes of great cooks and songs of garage bands.
"This would not only offer a lifeline to traditional media outlets but also nourish citizen journalists and bloggers. They have vastly enriched our realms of information and ideas, but most can't make much money at it. As a result, they tend to do it for the ego kick or as a civic contribution.
He adds: "Those who believe that all content should be free should reflect on who will open bureaus in Baghdad or be able to fly off as freelancers to report in Rwanda under such a system...I love journalism. I think it is valuable and should be valued by its consumers.
"Charging for content forces discipline on journalists: they must produce things that people actually value. I suspect we will find that this necessity is actually liberating. The need to be valued by readers — serving them first and foremost rather than relying solely on advertising revenue — will allow the media once again to set their compass true to what journalism should always be about."
But could this work in the UK where so much news, sport and other content is available free online from the BBC?
Story via Adrian Monck

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