Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Delicious Today: business models for online journalism

#1: Pitfalls of the pay wall
A very thoughtful essay. The author asks local publisher or editor to ask five questions before charging for content:
  1. Will the content behind the pay wall be unique and essential to users?
  2. What about the competition?
  3. Is it even possible to put a lid on your content?
  4. How many users are you likely to lose?
  5. What is your plan for finding out what people in your community will pay for and providing it to them?
#2: Goodbye Guardian. Hello the Guardian Experience
"The Guardian was a life-style, a niche, an affinity group. Whatever the point of entry, somewhere behind a paywall was a beckoning club, privileged access not just to news and comment but to a galaxy of media brands, events, concerts, courses, seminars, conferences, tours and related discounts and dating agencies. To pay was not to read, it was to join."

Guardian has decided not to use the paid content model but is proposing a members' club one. I like the idea a lot: not to sell content, but to sell an experience. Public broadcasting audience always feel a sense of community with their stations and fellow listeners/viewers. During pledge drives, events that give audience more face time with program hosts always do well in raising funds. We could do more of those events. But one drawback is those events take a lots of effort to organize. Are there any easy face-time events we can do or sponsor?

#3: Growthspur Q&A: Supporting local media through networks
Founded by several high-profile media executives, Growthspur is a new company that aims to find and sell business strategies to local news and information web sites. "While ad-based revenue is the most obvious, Growthspur will also investigate e-commerce, couponing, mobile applications and other possible streams of revenue for its partner sites." The company site says that "there’s no upfront cost to local sites for a GrowthSpur partnership. Our revenue model is a service fee on the advertising revenue we help you with."

This article makes me wonder why can't public broadcasting industry have our own Growthspur? While there are some organizations doing research and disseminate knowledge for the industry, we don't have a strong body/place to act as a clearing house for best practices and implement support. There is too much duplication of digital media start-up effort in stations. There is too little learning or "borrowing" from front-runners such as NPR who can't afford or feel comfortable to be the trainer for the whole system. Is it possible to form a public media "growthspur" to provide information, implementation and training services to stations and other non-profit organizations? It can be funded by CPB, by a small membership fee from stations, or by charging for service. In a way, Public Interactive is already providing some of those services, although most of its services are on the technical side and not enough on the business side.

What's your take on this?

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