All about the NYT’s paywall

Nieman Journalism Lab has been offering up excellent analysis on the New York Times paywall/fence (it went up earlier this week in Canada and it will be in place later this month in the US).

To get acquainted with the complicated metering approach, learn about the gaps already found and take a sneak peak at what it looks like, check out some of Nieman’s coverage.

-Blathnaid

Limber up news organisations

Once upon a time the equation for funding a news organisation was a lot more straightforward. Most of the budget came from a combination of advertising (inc classifieds) and either cover price or subscriber fees and sometimes tax-payer’s money.

Things have become more complicated recently. These days organisations, through trial and error, are attempting to come up with new ways to fund journalism.

Today, the new ready-for-a-paywall Times and Sunday Times websites launched. Later this year the New York Times will try out a metered pay model.

However, Silicon Valley Watcher’s Tom Foremski has another less-straighforward suggestion dubbed the ‘Heinz 57’ model, which I think is very interesting.

I’m sometimes asked what the new business model for media will be. My answer is that it will be a “Heinz 57” model. The Heinz food brand often has “57 varieties” in its promotions. And that’s a good metaphor for the emerging media business model.

He highlights the case of Australia’s Fairfax Media, which media consultant Frédéric Filloux looked at in February.

Filloux says Fairfax Digital (the part of Fairfax Media that runs hundreds of publications, websites and more than a dozen radio stations) has ‘no less than 15 revenue streams’ and it has an ‘entire team devoted to strategic advertising’ to react fast to changes and maximise ad money.

Filloux lists seven lessons to take from Fairfax Digital, which he expands in his post.

1. Accept the coming digital domination
2. Focus on reader engagement
3. Be an online company. Period.
4. Bet on multiple business resources
5. Capture readers and users one group after the other
6. Control your advertising innovation
7. Stay awake

The launch of the two News International sites today has put a spotlight on how news is funded and it’s going to be fascinating to see whether it can work. But I think there’s something in what Foremski and Filloux are highlighting.

Organisations must be flexible going forward. There will not be another simple equation, no answer to the 64-million-dollar question. A multiple-revenue model may be more complicated but it would hedge the bets, however organisations, no matter how big or small, need to be limber and able to react fast like Fairfax does.

Lots to think about,

B

The future of journalism more promising than ever – Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch is out and about again today in the Wall Street Journal with an opinion piece on the future of journalism.

While I may not agree with all he has to say in this piece, it is part of a much bigger debate that has kicked off about these issues – which is a very good thing.

The opinion piece is a version of what he presented recently to a Federal Trade Commission’s workshop on journalism and the Internet.

Some quick thoughts on what he says:

  • He blames the editors, the producers, bloggers even governments – but why not the media companies who started giving away news for free to begin with?
  • He is on the button when he says newspapers have prospered only because they provide the news that is important to the communities they serve:
  • That means covering the communities where they live, exposing government or business corruption, and standing up to the rich and powerful.

  • I disagree when he says organisations need to give the people the news they want. This idea can be taken too far.  You can serve a community well without pandering to it and there is a middle ground between producing news for prizes and only news people want:
  • First, media companies need to give people the news they want. I can’t tell you how many papers I have visited where they have a wall of journalism prizes—and a rapidly declining circulation.

  • He says customers are smart enough to know you don’t get something for nothing. Well this is what they’ve been getting for the past decade or so and are now complaining about losing – so I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Readers of the Wall Street Journal may be able to see the value of paying for the content of that publication (after-all it helps many of them make business decisions – so it’s a worthwhile investment), but will readers of the more-general publications like The Times or The Sun feel the same way?
  • He says he is open to different pay models, which seems wise considering the various types of publications and products in News Corp’s stable.
  • I am not so sure he is the best person to talk about competition particularly in an article in which he renews his calls to the FCC about cross-ownership.
  • Whether the newspaper of the future is delivered with electrons or dead trees is ultimately not that important. What is most important is that the news industry remains free, independent—and competitive.

Despite asserting that the future of journalism is more promising than ever – this is not the overall tone of this opinion piece.  In fact, it seems to me that even he is not sure of the future or maybe he’s just not ready to show his FULL hand.

B

Read All About It – some random links

Following the news that Jim VandeHei, co-founder of online and print-based publication Politico, has been elected to the Pulitzer Prize Board, a move it made to demonstrate its fondness for new media, Greg Marx at the Columbian Journalism Review asks if Politico really is new media. A good question considering 60% of Politicos’ income comes from small ads in its print edition. Read Marx’s article here

Next up, Robert Andrews at PaidContent has some interesting comments from Times Media’s digital development head Hector Arthur and News International’s strategy and product development director Dominic Young who are apparently ‘calm and relaxed’ about an impending paywall. Read here

Finally, I am sure it is no consolation to the employees who no longer have a job at McClatchy, but after earnings reports showed ‘improving trends’ the company has decided to end the wage freeze. However, more bad news made be around the corner as the group’s CEO did add that further cuts may be necessary next year. Read here

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