Friday, October 22, 2004

What is journalism worth? Some new info

The World Association of Newspapers has a new report out talking about what visitors to daily newspaper Internet sites will pay for. (Here's the release. The report requires $$$ through WAN's future of the newspaper site.)

There's some sobering news for trad journalists. Four things people won't pay for:
  • Most politics (interesting implications, since much of public affairs reporting is political in some way, including much of the investigative journalism we do)
  • News that doesn't affect them (again, consider the implications for those Pulitzer-candidate projects we love)
  • Non-local events
  • The arts (now that's interesting; one might think that those devoted to the arts might be willing to pay for in-depth coverage, much as people seem to be willing to pay for business information)
Among the services people will pay for:
  • Alerts concerning vital news; items to buy such as houses, cars, bargains; and financial information by e-mail or mobile text
  • Archives related to specific issues
  • Aggregation of content to make it more easily accessible (which raises the idea that one of the new business models we might see is really a variation on an old one, if you consider a newspaper really just an aggregator. Might we not see new aggregation services spring up to provide portals, promotion, etc. to independent voices? Might be an area for the industry to explore.)
  • Transactions with discounts -- but you'd better be ready to pick up the customer's transaction costs or commissions
  • Intelligent search that focuses on exactly what is sought
"Media consumers nevertheless continue to prove unwilling to pay for general online newspaper content," said Jim Chisholm, director of the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project.

Yet more grist for the mill as we ponder: What is journalism worth?


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