Friday, July 30, 2010

Suspicions confirmed: Internet handy, as long as it is free

A loyal reader, Jan, sent along a link that has a lot of good information about how people feel about the Internet and newspapers.

People love the Internet, but they are not willing to pay for much. That does not bode well for those who believe that a sustainable and lucrative model for online news gathering is anywhere on the horizon.

Maybe years down the road, but people want their information and they want it for free. I have a Twitter account, a Facebook account and use the Internet daily. But when someone asks me for dough, I say no. I hate tip jars, as well.

Also notice if you want the full report you'll have to pay for it. I'm not.


Anonymous said...

I was thinking of this very topic earlier this afternoon. There was this "executive editor" who met with a group of college J-school students a bit over a year ago, giving them the full Rah Rah speech which included the hilarious line of "Work for Less? Say YES!" (Seriously, he said this).

Anyway, he eventually moved to the topic of newspapers' ability to make money off their Web sites. Always one to believe he's in tune with today's younger folks, he tried to draw a parallel between free news content-to-paywall and the Napster-to-iTunes saga (people once got something for free; now, they're willing to pay for it).

'Trouble is, that is not a direct parallel, as anyone with a semi-functioning brain can easily discern. A song is a unique piece of intellectual property. If you want a legal copy of a specific song performend by a specific artist, you pay a fee.

News is, well, news, with most of it posted simultaneously by TV sites and radio sites and newspaper sites and, with increasing frequency, sites which have no ties to traditional mass media.

And, as one of your posters stated here a long time ago, there simply are too many FREE options out there just a mouse click away that prevent many news-gathering organizations from making money off of the Internet. How much time -- and money -- are people willing to spend on a newspaper's site (or a TV station's site, for that matter) when there are so many other things to do online? Facebook? Twitter? Gamer sites? Special-interest sites (sports, hobbies, etc.)? Blogs, such as this one. Then come the alternative-advertising sources, such as eBay and Craigslist. The Wall Street Journal has had some success with a paywall due to its very unique content, combined with a well-heeled, world-wide readership. But for every success story, how many hundreds of failures are out there?

Oh, and that "executive editor"? He doesn't even believe his own sermon. When he wanted to obtain songs for personal use a couple of years ago, rather than go the iTunes route, he enlisted the help of an underling to send him thousands of bootleg files . . . all free of charge, of course.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it'll happen, but I think a newspaper--theoretically--could have three types of subscriptions:
1) Print version only. No internet access. (Great for the seasoned citizens who hate computers)
2) Print and online version. For those who like receiving the print version but also like being able to read it online
3) Online only. Perhaps best for those from the area who live out of town or out of state who don't like waiting a week or two for their newspaper to arrive in the mail.