Friday, February 6, 2009

How to save newspapers: Time Magazine

Here's one writer's ideas for saving newspapers. Hat tip to a loyal reader for bringing it to my attention. It also echoes a lot of what I have said previously about the original insanity to give the online product away for free.

How to save newspapers

(And yet, here we are taking another publication's article for free. Maybe Time Magazine should take its own advice.)

4 comments:

mcwflint said...

Jim:
Would you pay to read that article? Or buy a subscription to the author or the magazine? In advance? Do you think the author was paid by Time for the article?

I have read 2 Times articles this week and that is probably 2 more then I have read from the Times in the last two years. I read based on recommendations of others. Should I pay those who made the recommendation?

I can't imagine subscribing to this author - he weakened his spot as an authority when he talked about "kids" paying up to 20 cents a text message. No one who texts with any frequency does that long. Better, cheaper plans are abundant..

I agree a better funding plan has to be created. For now, I can't see folks paying for content.

Perhaps it is time to dust offmy Rent A Journalist plan once again.

Jim of L-Town said...

I wasn't endorsing the article, but just passing it along. I find it interesting that we got it for free.

Jim

mcwflint said...

Thanks for passing it along. I find it so hard to give up the idea of newspapers succeeding even though I like the possibilities of what the Internet and new technologies bring to better reporting and journalism.

inky said...

We need to ask ourselves as a society if we value being informed about the issues of the day and having professionals shine a light on the activities of government and commerce. (My answer is YES, especially in these times.)Imagine what would be going on right now in the city of Detroit had Gannett not made a commitment to have a group of its most seasoned (and expensive) reporters tenaciously pursue the text message scandal -- as well as the expense of paying attorneys to defend the paper's right to access the messages. There was no guarantee that these journalists would uncover what they did but Gannett -- not known for investing resources this way -- did the right thing. Now the Freep (and papers across the country doing similar work) deserve a vote of confidence. And by vote, I mean buying a subscription or putting coins in the boxes.

Those in charge of papers and magazines haven't done themselves any favors by offering free content on the internet. But soon, there will be nothing to offer if there isn't a mechanism to pay good journalists for what they do. Should doctors work for free because people can get free medical information from Web MD? Are people who watch "Judge Judy" entitled to free legal advice?

Sorry mcwflint, to dismiss the Time piece as not worth paying for because you have a quibble with one of his arguments is a lame attempt to obfuscate the fact that you are a freeloader. The Time author's text message analogy may not have as much validity as it did before the providers offered bundled plans, but the fact of the matter is that people still pay to text message -- an average of $20 to $30 a month for unlimited plans. That's more than what I currently pay for the Free Press.

I laugh at people who balk about the price of a magazine or newspaper subscription but don't bat an eye at the cost of cable or satellite TV. Have you seen subscription prices lately -- publishers are practically GIVING magazines away. But that takes me back to the beginning of my argument: Is it worth paying a price to be informed ... or not?

The music industry has converted law-breaking music pirates (and that is what you are when you illegally download music) into paying customers with iTunes and similar services. The RIAA didn't score any PR points by suing people, but it did convince many citizens that theft is theft ... whether you rip off the Metallica or walk out of Wal-Mart with a pot roast under your jacket.

I agree with the Time author that content providers need to deliver a similar pay-to-play business model. I say pair the smartest minds in journalism with the smartest minds in business. At the same time, convince people that you get what you pay for. Contuining to give journalism away for free isn't a winning strategy -- for any of us.