Dispatches from the living amongst journalism's walking dead

Tag: business models

Presentation: Business models for online news

Here’s a Powerpoint of my presentation the News 2.0 Forum on 9/9/09: Buy this news, please?

(Right-click and download it if you want – just don’t steal it, man)


Here’s a big list of links to where I got the information included in the presentation. When I have time, I’ll come back and make this look a lot prettier.

ProPublica’s story on Memorial Hospital in New Orleans

American Prospect’s column on government-subsized news

MinOnline’s top paid models worth watching

Steve Outing’s thoughts on micropayments

Chat featuring Steve Outing and others discussing business models

Jeff Jarvis talks about online memberships vs subscriptions

Online Journalism Blog looks at the ad-supported model

Pew report on the drop in classified ads

A look at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “freemium” site

American Journalism Review’s praise for pay walls

Neiman Lab looks at how paying for news is a new thing

Michael Kinsley’s column on how he believes asking readers to pay will not work

Recommended reading on the mysterious future

These are my recommended links for August 28th through September 3rd:

Seeking your input on business models

I’ve mentioned before that I am pulling together an event 9/9 at the Enquirer Media offices, the News 2.0 Forum, where people inside and outside our news organization will give five minute presentations on their perception of “the future of news”. We’ve got a great lineup ready from quite  few different perspectives (I’ll post it when it’s finalized).

Anyway, I’m preparing my own five minute presentation on possible future business models. For some reason, I was crazy enough to volunteer to set up this event, emcee it and do a presentation (all of this the night before I leave for a long vacation).

Because I know the few (but elite!) readers of this blog are pretty savvy folks, I figured I’d ask you for your input on my presentation.

Here’s the models I’m focusing on:

1. The continuation of an advertising supported model. Using examples like HuffPo, West Seattle Blog, Gawker to show that ad support can work – but you need to be pretty well streamlined to make that happen.

2. The grant-funded model (e.g Pro Publica, Common Language project).

3. The membership/subscription based model.

4. Micropayments of all kinds.

5. Offering other products/services to support news operations.

So what am I missing here? Remember, it’s five minutes, so let’s not get crazy.

Business models, social media and cool interweb tips

Best Things I’ve Read This Week

The always awesome Paid Content has an excellent analysis by Nic Brisbourne on his version of the future of news. At it’s core – it isn’t anything you haven’t heard before: Better quality writing, investigative journalism and in-depth analysis are a commodity we in the professional news world have going for us, even as news itself is an abundance.

He suggests we should leverage this to reinforce our place in the market – and do so with less cost and without charging for access to the news. He notes the examples of TechCrunch, Pitchfork and Huffington Post leveraging their trusted brands into things they can charge for – and doing so with a low enough overhead to make it with decent online ad rates. It isn’t earth-shattering – but it is at least the most plausible plan I’ve ever heard.

On the flip side – there’s the privately-funded investigative model of journalism that’s still wearing it’s fledgling feathers – but it’s really rocking out. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out  “Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices” in the NY Times Magazine. The long-form investigative narrative is the sort of journalism we all wish we were doing – and it wasn’t done by the New York Times, for once. The work on this piece was funded by a grant through ProPublica – who worked with the NY Times to get it into print. Could agreements like this be a part of the future for in-depth reporting? If work like this is what comes out of it, I’m sold.

News on News

  • Ok, I get it, so maybe you want a more technology-oriented solution? How’s about an iPhone App that Automatically Picks the News You’ll Like ?An RSS reader that builds a custom news network for you based on your reading habits? That sounds like something we should be working with. Even if the reader doesn’t “pick us” to be in an individual’s mix, something like this makes news accessible to those who don’t have the time to find new news sources. Maybe that new source can be you?
  • Every online news source has either considered or tried free classifieds, with varying levels of success (mostly bad). Boing Boing asserts that Newspapers can’t make themselves as simple as craigslist – a well-deserved slam on the classified pages of most newspaper sites. There’s a reason why Craigslist works and we may have missed the point in trying (pathetically) to duplicate their effort.
  • Did you know The Guardian is the most bookmarked newspaper on delicious? I don’t really know what that says about them, but they must have a lot of news their readers find to be useful – or else they wouldn’t be bookmarking it. Check it out.
  • First it was the bloggers, now it’s the tweeters getting into the press boxes. One twittering fan has gotten courtside press credentials at St. John’s – the first of his kind (and probably not the last).

Social Media News

  • Breaking News: Social Media Is for Narcissists! To some people (i.e. my parents), it may seem like a no-brainer that my generation (Y, Why?) is full of narcissists in regards to social media. What is interesting is the surveyed groups of (much younger) Gen-Yers understanding that that might not be such a bad thing to really sell yourself in such a competitive world – not only in business, but in life.
  • In related news, all that news about teens not being into Twitter may not be right. It isn’t so much that the proportion of teens on Twitter are low, but that the majority of social media users are older simply because the social web is growing up. Twitter – unlike many of the others – actually started with an older group and they’ve had a longer time to adopt it.
  • Pat Thornton writes on Poynter about different newspapers’ approach to Twitter use – and how there doesn’t seem to be one right answer for getting a good ROI out of it. Automated accounts sometimes work, personal accounts sometimes don’t – so perhaps variety is the answer? (At Cincinnati.Com, we have both)
  • As you know, not everyone is sold on social media’s value – not even all of those marketers and brands out there. As much as some old-school companies might be fighting, the stats say Social Media Resistance Is Fading Fast and adoption rates are soaring.

Cool Tips!!

  • If you’re the sort of journo is is doing (or desperately trying) multimedia and online work in several software suites, you might find this collection of software cheat sheets from 10,000 Words helpful. It outlines helpful hints for all sorts of video, audio and web programs.
  • And while most of these little hints apply to marketing and advertising types,it might be good to know these Eight Twitter Habits That May Get You Unfollowed or Semi-Followed so you don’t look like a tool on the Internets.

Ideas on the future of news?

A couple of weeks ago at a social media open mic night, of sorts, I had a brainstorm about doing our own open mic night with one theme: The future of news.

I may have had a few too many Manhattans at that time, but by the next day, I was still dead serious. Why not pull together the best theories and ideas from people inside and outside the industry into one (brief) night of fun?

And so the News 2.0 Forum was born.

We’ll be taking submissions up until Aug. 28 for five-minute presentations on how news will/should be reported, produced, published, read or paid for in the future. We’ll be selecting the 10 or 12 best for our forum (based loosely on the Ignite model) on September 9 at my paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Here’s more details.

So, who out there has an idea for a presentation? Obviously it’d be best if you could be in Cincinnati that day, but if someone had a dynamite presentation on video or live stream, we’d certainly consider it.

Ruminations on the future of news

Jay Rosen at Press think has thoughtfully pulled together a fablous collection of essays about the collapse and rebuilding of the news business. While every journalist worth their ratty desk chair has read a lot about the mistakes of online journalism past, most of these essays really explain how we got here and how we can rebuild the news business model to reflect a digital era.

The best of his recommended lot, in my opinion, is Clay Shirky’s Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. While his isn’t one of the more uplifting essays, he explains how the news industry’s response to the Internet was (and still is) holding back innovation.

Shirky writes: “When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.”

Another of Rosen’s featured links is to Steven Berlin Johnson’s speech on Old Growth Media and the Future of News, which I wrote about a few days ago.

When you get a chance and you can handle some straight talk, read these over.

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