Tag Archives: pay

AFTERTHOUGHTS: Is the focus on fixing a broken system, or inventing a new one?

At “Blueprinting the Information Valet Economy,” summit participants came back to the question: “Who will pay?” and decided it depends upon what they are served and whether the focus is on fixing a broken system or inventing a new one.  After observing and blogging about the three-day event Dec. 3-5 at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, graduate student Emily Sussman wrote afterthoughts, and turned to fellow students for reaction. She found them fuzzy about the InfoValet idea.   In the next month, we’ll work to clear up the fuzziness as we write a development plan for the InfoValet Service.

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We pay for paper and news, but not online news — a little math

Leonard Witt at Kennesaw State University does a little math and asks the question (paraphrased): “Why are people willing to pay $500 a year for news on paper, but nothing for it online?”   He writes:

So let’s say the more than 300,000 subscribers of the now bankrupt Chicago Tribune got mad as hell at Sam Zell and decided they would start their own cooperative news organization. For $3 a week each they could own the journalism equivalent of the Green Bay Packers. Citizen owned journalism support by $45 million annually with each person just investing $3 a week. Do the math $3 a week or a $150 a year times 300,000 potential citizen owners equals $45 million.

Is it only because no one has asked the public to do so that this seems improbable? What would happen if unique news were no longer given away for free on the web? Would folks miss it enough to be part of a subscriber network to get it?

In 2005, Fortune editor, Battelle, forsaw paying readers to view ads

Editors and reporters who make a living from journalism are in despair that advertising is disaggregating from the traditional platforms that supported their calling.  But isn’t there opportunity, too? The newspaper and broadcaster makes money by putting ads in a platform (print or channel) where viewers/readers congregate. Why not make money by bringing the consumers to the advertisements, whereever they reside? To do that, you have to compensate the reader/viewer for looking at the ad. If you own the user relationship, and you create the flow of compensation to the viewer, you can take a cut. 

Paul Maidment, the executive editor of Forbes magazine, understood this well when he commented in an interview Feb. 25, 2005 during “On the Media” with Brook Gladstone: “What will happen next is that audience will say: ‘If you’re going to sell us to advertisers, then you’ve got to pay us. And that’s the real long-term challenge that I think newspapers are going to be facing.’ ” 

At Federated Media, John Battelle, writing in 2005, also understood the power of allowing ads to find their own users.

Think opportunity, not challenge. Why not lead the readers to the ads, whereever they are, and take a cut of the compensation the readers receive? Or, more directly, why not lead the reader/viewer into a relationship with a sponsor or product vendor, and take a cut for doing so. Are there ethical issues with that, so long as the role is transparent and disclosed?