By Trace Sharp
The biggest news of the week probably is the online conversation that news outlets are contemplating charging for their online content. This is not a new concept and has been discussed repeatedly for years, but the issue is finding a business model that works.
The industry has to contemplate selling their product. Or maybe just part of their product. Take into account ESPN’s online presence. Yes, it gives it’s breaking news product away, but they also have a subscription section called the Insider where readers can find more in-depth reporting, rumors and sports analysis. Although it’s not perfect, it’s working.
It goes without saying that the news industry will need to rebuild and find the balance between what their customers want for free and what they are willing to pay for. This is the dilemma because it daunting to consider the evolution of an industry. And the other thing to consider is in the beginning, many business models will fail. New advertising campaigns specifically designed for the web must be concentrated and not based on the print industry’s preconception on ad sales. Print ads are a completely different beast than online sales.
It’s not the same thing.
One of the biggest obstacles is that the administrators must realize that people will pay for what they want. But, if they can get it for free, it’s a no-brainer. They aren’t going to pay.
By focusing on what our readers want is key. And believing that is worthy of selling is even more important.
And it’s a reality.
Charging for online content may not be enough to save the newspaper industry, and it almost certainly won’t be enough to save every newspaper now in danger. But the time to reconsider newspapers’ online business model is long overdue. As that reconsideration gathers momentum, it’s critical that decisions be made on the basis of facts. In this dark economic moment, the truth is hard enough.
It’s not a popular notion to set up subscription based sites, however, it’s going to have to happen. The model of ESPN and other news entities that balance some free content while combining it with paid subscriptions to features might be the way to go about it.
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