Media Evolution Blog Race (in swenglish)

People pay for context, not content

News has always been more or less for free.
What the consumers have been paying for has always been the packaging, the distribution.
Of course it’s the news they are looking for, but the price they have paid has not been anywhere near enough to cover for the expenses of the journalism.

Today, many people spend big money on expensive TVs, computers and broadband connections. They buy mobile phones and look for subscriptions with the lowest price for the longest time online possible. Many people also buy newspapers, but it is not the news they pay for. For the most part they pay to get it printed on paper and delivered early in the morning.

The content, the journalism, fewer and fewer are willing to pay for.
More and more protests rise against TV License, many cancel their newspaper subscriptions and more people choose to not to get one. The attempts that have been made to charge a price for journalistic content on the Internet have not been particularly successful.

Of course that is not the whole truth. There are still successful
investments with editorial content that stand alone. The good examples in Sweden are for example the weekly newspaper Fokus, that focuses on news and depth, and Filter which on a monthly basis bring solid editorial content, that people are actually ready to pay for to get printed on paper and delivered by mail.

But the daily press has ended up somewhere in between. The daily
newspapers mostly contain yesterday’s news. Few people have time to read it before the leave for work and during the day most people can get an update on what has happened and is happening in the world. At the same time the media publish in all channels and the deep going, investigative journalism that there is still interest to pay for suffers.

So what should the newspapers do in times when most people gladly pay for the distribution rather then the content they deliver, and the paper is not found worth paying for to have it get delivered home?

Maybe like Joakim Jardenberg on Mindpark suggests today. Stop printing
the newspaper:

It is also bad that those who know about it interpret it as a
passive measure. Of course there are cost-savings to be made on paper,
printing and distribution, but that is not what’s most important.
Particularly not for us that act on a local market. Let us try to turn
the perspective and see it as an active measure. If we don’t sit and
wait for this development to force us, but instead place ourselves in
the driving seat and take radical action. What happens if?

As usual it’s all about advertising revenue. I once again use
Helsingborgs Dagblad as an example. We have earlier been able to read
that they get about 500 millions a year in revenue from adverts, the
main part from the local market. 95 percent of the money spent the
market place in the daily newspaper. But what would happen if we
removed that possibility?

Without the daily paper as a place for adverts a part of the money
would probably end up in other local media. I can imagine that both
RixFm and TV4 would rejoice. But we must also be incredibly clumsy to
not get the biggest part for our other channels. Particularly if the
reading of both our web site and our free paper reasonably rise
further without competition from the subscribed newspaper.

Because there is certainly an audience for the content the media
The interest in news will not disappear. And someone needs to sort the stream of information. Someone needs to, without other interests than to tell the truth and independently, examine those in power actually find things out. Exactly like it’s always been. But it has not been paid but the consumers. The incomes to the media
companies have with exception for the Public Service in effect been paid with advertising revenue.

That’s why Jardenberg’s thoughts are incredibly interesting. The
advertisers want to reach to their local market – where would they turn if the possibility to advertise in the printed paper disappeared?
Why not to the local news website?

Because it’s the advertisers that pay for the journalism. Not the consumers.
They pay for the distribution. Their computer, their broadband connection, their mobile phone.
And isn’t the current recession an excellent time to instead of investing in costly printing presses dare to invest in becoming the best on the web – not just at the content, but also for the adverting customers that have earlier been faithful to the daily newspapers but has an equally great need as the newspapers to find new models for
their survival.

I do not believe that the Swedish media companies are brave enough to
try this out
, many of them would rather probably discontinue titles and close the factory. But maybe someone dare to try something in between? Invest in a strong news web and local advertisers, and gather the best and the most solid examinations in a weekly newspaper like Fokus, which the ones willing to pay for can pay for, what it actually costs?

Earlier posts in the Media Evolution Blog Race:
Peter Sunde: Chris Anderson visiting Malmö
Martin J Tjörnkvist: Keep what you got buy giving it all away
And comment from What’s Next.

This post is also available in Swedish – here.

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