July 10, 2009
#newsinnovation : New News Business Models
Kevin Anderson, who has a new job title at The Guardian, which I missed, is talking about startups trailing new journalism funding models:
- Circulate: they do semantic analysis on your content. Users sign up, and the system gives you new content based on your implicit and explicit interests.
- Journalism Online: High-powered startup. They're doing an arm-twisting job with content providers. Kevin doesn't see what their proposition is for users.
- ViewPass: Gated content - create a network of content providers
- Kachingle: Gift economy way of funding content: based on attention.
- Niche advertising networks.
Zombie debate about paywalls is back. NYT looks like they're considering $5 for the content.
One problem with all these monetisation models is that they're all focused on the publishers' needs, not the readers' needs.
Kindle: the problem is not technological but business. 70:30 split between Amazon and publishers. Nobody can afford to do that right now. Kevin sees the iPhone, with its new ability for in-app charging more interesting. The Kindle isn't social, as someone in the crowd pointed out.
Some discussion about News International and what it will put behind a paywall. Kevin suggested that the output of journalists and editors in not necessarily what people value most highly.
Most companies see community as a technological not a social problem. We build better commenting solutions, not social ones.
Hyper-local sites: MyMissourian model. Pro-journalists cover "official news", open a platform for other to cover everything else. Journalists are really bad judges of what's banal. People wanted to write about weather, pets and church.
Journalism has become definition by exclusion, not be inclusion. If we define ourselves by a big bag of things we don't do, we're going to define ourselves out of a job.
Build niche communities around content and sell advertising against those niches? [Yes, says I, 'cos that's what we do...] Kevin says that advertisers are even more risk adverse than we are, which is true. But advertisers can be educated...
Columnists are based on annoying people. Community is often built by doing something positive, which means a whole shift in journalistic mind set. And moderation needs are much lower (and therefore cheaper...) "The more you piss people off, the more you have to moderate, the more you have to pay, and the quicker you fail."
Audience: Has journalism found new things to sell? No, not so far. Maybe we have found things, but nobody wants to pay for them.
Back to Kevin: 2005 was a high-water mark for journalism employment in the US. That was a 50 year flood, and now things are coming down. There's some creative destruction going on right now. It's not just repackaging what we've always done any more - its new thinking. Niche specialised coverage - that's trade pubs and people look down on that [yes, they do. I speak from experience] - but we need more of that. Expert aggregation isn't seen as journalism - but it's needed.
We have a really poor relationship with our audience.
Does unionisation hurt our prospects of moving forwards? [Declining to get involved. Been there, taken the abuse]. Kevin suggested that he is not a member because there are still people vocally questioning his professionalism because of the medium in which he works. And he is concerned that people are still harkening back to a lost past. But we do need to move together if we are to survive.
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