Newspapers & Business Models

Bernard Hickey has a fine debate going over at his blog on Interest.co.nz since last Friday

Opinion: How to profitably publish financial news online for free

July 17th, 2009

By Bernard Hickey

“Earlier today NBR publisher Barry Colman announced he was going to charge a discounted NZ$89 for a six month subscription to see about 20% of the news and commentary at NBR’s website. He argued it was only a matter of time before the business model of free news online collapsed and media generally was at a ‘tipping point in The Great New Journalism Adventure.’

I agree that we are at or near a tipping point for a great new journalism adventure and I’m having a ball embarking on that adventure. But I think Barry has tipped the wrong way and I’d like to suggest another better and more profitable way.”

Read the rest of the over  at: Opinion: How to profitably publish financial news online for free and feel free to make comments there as well.

Very good to see references to Clay Shirky and some of the others thinking about business models and the future of online publishing. See( Rise of Social Capital and Media Activism)

I wrote the following comment on that post:

The best thing about this is the debate. First off NBR & Barry Colman have done well for a very long time – but to a certain extent they are trapped by their own history and cost structures.

Now – hands up everyone here who makes more $ than Barry Colman out of media publishing. Respect for that – but there will be even greater respect for publishers who take the model forward and continue to create value for everyone which is a different paradigm entirely.

Crap bloggers don’t really last while I can think of more than a few reactionary columnists in MSM who don’t deserve reading but who are piggybacking off the back of a larger brand which tolerates them.

When Murdoch bought Dow Jones there was a lot of debate on print vs online. Some of which we covered in 2007 media-meltdown-or-new-era-dow-jones/ (Thanks Raf for mentioning that.)

There is one subscription model variation that has been tried a few times and I think it certainly seems to work. It is sponsored access to a members only space.

Not sure who is doing this now but it works by giving short term access based on a sponsor paying some / all of the costs. So when I try to click through to one of the featured articles I see a message which says XYZ sponsor will give me a free pass of for x number of days/accesses.

From a publishers viewpoint you can then put sponsorship messages in front of the “hot traffic” flows and everyone wins. (FT does something like this.)

Also in terms of membership style access there are systems which apply micro payment charges to each different unit of measure but typically this is easier to manage by more of a flat fee access a zone or multiple zones.

Rethinking business models is not easy – witness the music industry who are still largely in denial over this – but it will come.

If you haven’t already have a look at The news business- Tossed by a gale from May ‘09 at Economist.

P.S – Go over to the post and add your comments there or here is good too.