Category Archives: charging for content

June 23-25 “congress” gathering aims to establish trust, identity, commerce services for news

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Three U.S. newspaper trade groups and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute are teaming up to seed ideas and a possible solution to how news and other information can be managed and sold online.  “From Blueprint to Building: Making the Market for Digital Information,” is being billed as a three-day “action congress” to discuss issues of trust, identity and Internet information commerce.

 The June 23-25 event at the University of Missouri-based research center will include unveiling of a 148-page business plan for a proposed news-industry collaborative, according to Bill Monroe, director of the Multistate Digital Task Force, an ad-hoc group formed by state press associations in Missouri, Kansas and Iowa with support from several other state trade groups.

 Details of the public event, and links to participant registration, are at .

 “This is not a conference, or a summit,” says Bill Densmore, a consulting researcher to the Reynolds Journalism Institute. “ It’s a public congress of news and information service providers — organized by U.S. state press associations. The intention is to move beyond talk, and to launch one or more enterprises or collaboratives.” Reynolds is an ideas-experiments-research center affiliated with the nation’s oldest journalism school, at the University of Missouri.

 Densmore said the gathering has two intentions:

  •  Consider establishing a non-profit collaborative that will specify standards, platforms and protocols for a digital information marketplace; supporting investment and partnering with operating companies and,
  • Define and start raising money for an operating company or association that answers to, and primarily serves and benefits, all America’s newspapers — and is focused on profitably sharing, protecting and managing their digital content. Monroe, who is working from the Iowa Press Association in Des Moines, said the working name for the new entity is the American Newspaper Digital Access Corp.

“Newspapers are working to make the transition from a product-based culture — the daily paper — to a service-based one — helping people manage their privacy, identity and information needs in a web and mobile ecosystem awash with more information than we can intelligently assess,” says Densmore. “News organizations need to become our trusted  information valets  rather than our information gatekeepers.”

“From Blueprint to Build,” is an outgrowth of a December, 2008, summit also convened by the Reynolds Journalism Institute as part of a fellowship undertaken by Densmore called the Information Valet Project.

Trust, identity, commerce: Inseparable building blocks of a free market for digital information

Trust, identity and commerce –they’re inseparable building blocks of a free market for digital information. The Journalism (or Information) Trust Association proposal brings together three vital threads. Unless they are woven together, the Internet will fail to embody the best — or at least most useful — relationships of the physical world. READ MORE.

Midwest newspapers anti-up $30K to eye for-profit collaborative to monetize Internet content

Three Midwest newspaper associations — Kansas, Missouri and Iowa — met Nov. 20 and formed a coordinated effort to manage monetization of their content on the web, raising in minutes an initial $30,000 to start planning. They’ve asked a retiring executive of the Iowa Press Association, Bill Monroe, to look into the idea. A key part of the idea is a for-profit corporation, owned by the nation’s newspapers, to coordinate the effort.

Original oganizers of the task force were Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association; Bill Monroe, deputy executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association; and Doug Crews, executive director of the Missouri Press Association.

At Friday’s meeting, says Monroe, publishers present pledged “about $30,000 in 90 seconds” to help the project get through the next phase — talking to key media people nationwide and creating an inventory of all possible approaches to how to get paid for online content.


Google’s CEO on what will pay for content: Advertising, micropayments, subscriptions

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has laid out his vision for the three principal ways information will be financed in a digital age. His answer, not surprisingly: Advertising, micropayments and subscriptions. What’s notable is his particular take on where each method can be most effectively deployed.

Schmidt laid out his views in a one-hour broadcast interview March 6, 2009, on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS. If you want to watch it, here’s the link, and the content-funding discussion starts about 15 minutes in:

Here’s the context: Rose asked Schmidt about the phenomenon of user-generated content. Schmidt acknowledges the challenging of selling advertisements against it. He says Google is working on ways to target content to individual interests. He notes that text ads near search results “are very, very lucrative, and a great business to be in.” He says Google is working on the creation of sophisticated visual advertisements that will make people excited about buying products. “And we can sell those products and make a lot of money,” he says.

When Rose then asked about how to monetize content, Schmidt explains:

  • He said advertisements would be used to cover the cost of “things, which are going to be viewed by 2 billion people.”
  • For smaller audiences — 20 million or 2 million viewers — “you can imagine that you’ll have micropayments, not advertising, where you’ll pay a one cent, three cent, five cent for a view. And those tools and techniques are being developed now in the industry and I think are likely to be successful.”
  • For specialized, high-value content, “that is knowledge workers who are highly paid and they have to have this very special report, they’ll pay big bucks and they’ll use the traditional subscription methods.”

    On privacy of Google Mail

    On privacy, Rose asks Schmidt about the fact that Google has the ability to “see all my mail” if a user is on Google Mail.

    “But we don’t, by practice,” replies Schmidt.

    “You’re saying trust us. Trust us?” asks Rose.

    “Yes,” replies Schmidt. “We do not sneak a look.”

    Transparency — a form of journalism?

    Journalism doesn’t come up in the interview, per se. But Schmidt has some thoughtful comments about the way technology is increasing transparency in society and in politics. Here’s a longish, verbatim excerpt. To what extend does Schmidt articulate a scenario, which makes watchdog journalism unnecessary?

    SCHMIDT: “The important thing here is the phenomenon of user-generated content, of which YouTube is an example, is I think the defining expression of humanity over the next 10 to 20 years. We had no idea that all these things were going on because there was no way to see them. And now if you have someone who is being taken advantage of or abused or put into an inappropriate position or what have you they can take a picture, they can record what the police are doing.

    “There are a lot of implications. The most interesting thing is transparency is how you keep societies honest. And we’ve now because of the Internet and the digital revolution We’ve essentially given people the ability to see everything. So you can now take photographs and videos of everything you see in your world and people will discover it. And there are whole communities of people who are interested in these kinds of aspects and the serve as a form of check and balance on the powerful, the rich, the people who might exploit others. But it doesn’t necessarily mean for a different outcome, but it means that everybody can’t hide, they can’t tell the truth and that’s a big step forward.”

    ROSE: But how would it affect politics?

    SCHMIDT (excerpting his answer): “Politicians today are well aware of YouTube and its phenomenon and they’re more careful. And being more careful is probably good. Because indeed if they are going off and saying things to small audiences and they’re going to another audience and saying something very different, I want to know that as a viewer.” …. “It’s very difficult now to use completely false statements to inflame the public.”

  • Opinion: Will the NYT Make Blogging Profitable (But Leave it With a Wounded Foot)?

    by Emily W. Sussman

    Our local NPR station, KBIA, has an excellent show, “Views of the News,” in which three journalism professors here at the University of Missouri (Lee WilkinsCharles Davis, and Mike McKean) discuss the significance (or insignificance, as the case may be) of the major media events of the week. 

    This week’s show (definitely worth a listen) was near and dear to the core of the Information Valet Project: it centered around the sorely needed monetization of news sites. Specifically, the panelists discussed the New York Times‘ new initiative to feature hyperlocal blogs on the NY metro areas, expressing deep cynicism that the effort would result in anything remotely involving dollar signs.  Continue reading

    Can Kachingle “Change” the Unpaid Content Paradigm?

    by Emily W. Sussman

    In today’s depressed economy, status symbols like fancy cars and logo-embellished shirts broadcast foolishness, not prestige. It makes far more sense to spend what (little) we have on things that sustain us physically, professionally and intellectually. Right?

    In theory, yes. But in real life, only my landlord and my grocery store have business models in place for collecting my dwindling dollars. Continue reading

    Charging for Trust? The Perils of Information Investment on an Unstable (Free) Platform

    by Emily W. Sussman

    Is “too free to be trustworthy” today’s web-wise version of the old adage “too good to be true”?

    MediaShift’s Mark Glaser had a great cautionary post last week about the dangers of professional and/or personal overreliance on any one sharing-is-caring 2.0 platform, such as Facebook or Twitter. [I’ll refer to these types of sites here as ‘SN/UGC’ for Social Networking/User-Generated Content.]

    In today’s unpredictable climate of spend-venture-capital-cash-now, find-revenue-later SN/UGCs, Glaser advises, it’s folly to put all your information eggs in one basket. Continue reading

    Potential “Valet” Service: Robust (Semantic) Search and Info Delivery

    by Emily W. Sussman

    Yes, information is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get what you want. Case in point: While researching one of those ubiquitous “future of journalism” op-ed columns — the logic of which hinged on key events in the history of paid news content on the web  — Stanford prof. Joel Brinkley apparently missed a few things, as Steve Yelvington informs us on his blog.

    Some of these were fairly big omissions. Like Brinkley’s failure to acknowledge the existence of New Century Network, that well-intentioned but ill-fated effort in the mid-90’s to aggregate the online presence of the major news publishers. Continue reading

    Evaluating Blodget’s Paid NYT Model

    by Emily W. Sussman

    Reacting (as many bloggers did) to Michael Hirschorn’s apocalyptic scenario for the New York Times in the Atlantic, former stock analyst and Internet publisher Henry Blodget proposed a three-pronged plan last week to save the paper. “Current management doesn’t seem to have one,” says Blodget. “So it’s up to us.”  Here’s his strategy:

    1)  Cut overall costs by 40 percent by 2010.
    HOW: Reduce the number of editors. Fire reporters for not being “productive” enough, as quantified by page hits. Shut down bureaus. Shutter non-essential sections of the paper. Consolidate newsrooms.

    Continue reading

    What Counts as “Value” on a News Site?

    by Emily W. Sussman

    Back in December, Eat Sleep Publish’s Jason Preston predicted that fervent readers of a given news site would be willing to open up their wallets, if asked nicely. Using the Financial Times’ model, he visualizes a system of “metered content,” whereby the first thirty or so visits to a news site would be free, but users would incur a charge for looking at additional site content.

    From there, Preston channels Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory and predicts that the financial contributions of the top 10 percent of users (the “engaged audience”) will subsidize the remaining 90 percent of freeloading users. Continue reading