If you start to look at who has suffered most from the growth of the internet over the last decade then the first thing you would probably think of would be the music industry, which is surprising as you would have thought that Newspapers would have been hit the hardest (who needs to pay for news when you get it for free on the internet?).
However thanks to a combination of tradition, wanting to have news ‘on the go’ and numerous other reasons they have managed to hang in there, and the industry would appear to be still going strong, the vast majority also have thriving websites.
But unfortunately for the newspapers their popularity is declining, and the most obvious solution would be to exploit the capabilities of the internet and generate revenue via online means as well as (or maybe in the future instead of) the paper version.
So how do you manage to get people to pay to get their news online? No small feat, especially when you consider that other newspapers would be more than happy to snap up your lost customers put off by pricing.
Well that’s what the New York Times has been thinking about, and thanks to Twitter we know the things discussed in their news staff strategy meeting which give us an idea of what could lie in the future not just for the NYT but also for our newspapers this side of the Atlantic.
There were three main ideas that we were told came up in the meeting, and they were related to ‘membership’, ‘legal’ and ‘API’ (application programming interface) methods all which seem feasible to make their way into reality.
The first idea was that they would introduce a tiered membership system that would have different pricing systems and ultimately allowing the members access to certain parts of the website. Whether or not there would be a ‘free’ membership allowing basic access we don’t know, but the idea of paying for additional content is one that could well work, and may not put as many people off.
The second is essentially an extension on the current methods to recoup money lost through plagiarism; whilst currently they either let infringements go or (to quote) “Squash” them “like mosquitoes” this third method would involve convincing search engines to give a proportion of the plagiariser’s profits to them allowing them to still make a profit even when their work is stolen. In practice I think this may be very difficult to set up, and I would be surprised if anything like this ever makes it into reality.
Finally we have the API, which is a system which would allow third party software developers to create services that use NYT content, perhaps a device such as the Amazon Kindle 2 or the Amazon Kindle DX would use the content. This is something that the men at the top think will grow rapidly, and by charging for it they think they will be able to benefit from “significant revenue streams”.
So this is all great in theory, but what do you think about having to pay for the content on the internet? Currently there is a mentality that anything on the internet is open for everyone, and that is something that newspapers will have to overcome if they want to start making money from it. But would you really pay for it? Would you just go to somewhere that relies purely on advertising? And would you go as far a changing newspapers? It is an industry that relies very much on loyalty so that could play a bigger part than you think.
Yes these are just ideas, and yes it is in America, but don’t be surprised to plans like those above starting to filter their way across to the UK if they prove successful…what do you think to the prospect of paying for reading content on the Internet that you currently get for free?
Via – Guardian