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Vin Crosbie Vin Crosbie
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Dorian Benkoil Dorian Benkoil
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Bob Cauthorn Bob Cauthorn
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Ben Compaine Ben Compaine
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Dorian Benkoil senior consultant at Teeming Media. An award-winning journalist and editor, he was a foreign correspondent for AP and Newsweek, and international and managing editor for ABCNews.com. At ABC News he moved to the business side, handling sales integration and business development, before joining Fairchild Publications as General Manager for their Internet division, becoming editorial director for mediabistro.com, then a consultant for Teeming Media in New York. He graduates this year with an MBA from Baruch's Zicklin school of business. Learn more about him at Benkoil.com or his blog - MediaFlect.com.

Robert Cauthorn is a journalist, former vice president of digital media at the San Francisco Chronicle, and was the third recipient of the Newspaper Association of America's prestigious Digital Pioneer Award. He launched one of the first five newspapers web sites in the world and is generally considered to have delivered the first profitable newspaper web site in 1995. Cauthorn has been in the middle of the transition from old media to new and is recognized as frank-talking critic when he believes newspapers stray for their mission. In mid-2004 he became the president of CityTools, LLC a new media startup based in San Francisco.

Ben Compaine has divided his career between the academic world and private business. He was a journalist when manual typewriters were considered state of the art, but also led the conversion of his college newspaper to cold type. He has started and managed weekly newspapers. His dissertation at Temple University in 1977 was about the changing technologies that were going to unsettle the landscape of the staid and low profit newspaper industry. Since then he has focused his research and consulting on examining the forces and trends at work in the information industries. Among his most well-known works (and the name of his blog) is "Who Owns the Media?".

Vin Crosbie has been called "the Practical Futurist" by Folio, the trade journal of the American magazine industry. Editor & Publisher magazine, the trade journal of the American newspaper industry, devoted the Overview chapter of executive research report Digital Delivery of News: A How-to Guide for Publishers to his work. His speech to the National Association of Broadcasters annual conference was one of 24 orations selected by a team of speech professors for publication in the reference book Representative American Speeches 2004-2005. He has keynoted the Seybold Publishing Strategies conference in 2000; co-chaired and co-moderated last year's annual Beyond the Printed Word the digital publishing conference in Vienna; and regularly speaks at most major online news media conferences. He is currently in residence as adjunct professor of visual and interactive communications and senior consultant on executive education in new media at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and meanwhile is managing partner of the media consulting firm of Digital Deliverance LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
About this blog
Two forces have shattered the news media. Technology is the first. Although media technology is undergoing its greatest change since the day in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg first inked type, for more than ten years now the news industry has mistaken new technologies merely as electronic ways to distribute otherwise printed or analog products. Estrangement is the second. The news media has lost touch with people's needs and interests during the past 30 years, as demonstrated by rapidly declining readerships of newspapers and audiences of broadcast news. How we rebuild news media appropriate to the 21st Century from the growing rubble of this industry is the subject of this group weblog.
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Rebuilding Media

« What's a Community News Site's Obligation? | Main | Newspapers shouldn't be seeking -- and don't need-- government help »

April 15, 2009

Crovitz, Brill in New Pay Journalism Project

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Posted by Dorian Benkoil

Steve Outing today pointed me to Journalism Online, a new attempt to charge for journalistic content. The press release makes it seem they’ll be offering readers a way to pay one price and pick from among paid content they want, and publishers a chance to make their efforts available at a price point they choose. Users will be able to pick stories a la carte, or via subscription. The release frequently mentions newspapers, but also says there are talks with magazines.

The release says ads, alone, can’t and never have paid for quality journalism. Maybe not. And we’ll find out if J.O. is right that Americans will pay for journalism because they understand it needs to be supported. I’m not so sure. They will pay for convenience, ease of use, utility and access they wouldn’t otherwise have.

What will make this work, I think, is from the reader side:


  1. if they can get what they want with ease
  2. if the price point is low enough that convenience outweighs the desire to go hunting for the info elsewhere (think iTunes)
  3. If there are enough publications available

  4. if the content is not commoditized or the kinds of stuff available so many other places that it’s easy to find. (I doubt breaking news or big stories available all over the place will make much money.)


... and for publishers:


  1. the ability to make additional incremental revenue from content they couldn’t get on their own.
    strong Incentives to cooperate in the project rather than go it alone, as they’re so used to doing
    ease of installation and use
  2. flexible pricing -- Journalism Online is promising to let publishers charge their own prices and adjust them.
  3. data, which J.O. is also promising, to allow quick changes in pricing, story mix, etc. (“Journalism Online will provide reports to member publishers on which strategies and tactics are achieving the best results in building circulation revenue while maintaining the traffic necessary to support advertising revenue.”)
  4. assurance their content won’t be pilfered, will be in an environment they can trust in every sense

  5. enough revenue and revenue share that they’ll feel it’s a fair shake, that J.O. isn’t taking too much of a cut.

More here.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Newspapers


COMMENTS

1. Ben Compaine on April 29, 2009 10:56 AM writes...

As I consistently remind students, publishers-- anyone playing around in this sandbox-- the target market is not "Americans" or "people" or "readers." It is "some" Americans or people or readers or viewers or listeners. To be more specific, the "some" need only be "enough" readers. So when you write "we'll find out if J.O. is right that Americans will pay for journalism" what is critical is that some-- or enough-- will pay. What that number is depends on both the cost of providing the service and the price users are asked to pay. But it will invariably be a small subset of the audience for the same information if free. I'm optimistic that the benefits of quality journalism will appeal to a minority of the population -- but large enough in absolute numbers -- that will make it a viable business for more than one provider.

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2. Dorian on May 10, 2009 9:58 AM writes...

Ben, couldn't agree more. In fact, The Wall Street Journal online proves your point.

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