Someone has to pay the bill for journalism. Whether it be in print, radio, video, or online, someone has to pay. There is no such thing as a free lunch. What has paid the bill for news so far? Advertising, advertising, and more advertising. Everything from full page ads to 4 by 6 ads to the classifieds. Everything has been paid for by advertising. Advertising is supposed to bring in business that makes the investment worth it. Now that ad revenue is reminiscent of the first hill of a roller coaster, all media depending on advertising is struggling. Newspapers are getting hit with an equivalent left right combo from the fist of George Forman. Not only are the ads drying up, but the internet is pulling away readers at an alarming rate. What will they do? Robert Murdoch wants consumers to pay for the online content. Good luck.
Consumers must pay for what they consume. We pay for the meal we consume at McDonalds. We pay for the gas our car consumes. Consumers makes the economy go around. The recession has put consumers on a diet and hunt for really cheap and free food. No meal is ever free or cheap. Someone is paying. How will consumers pay for journalism in the post-recession era? Advertising will rebound, but businesses will refuse to put all their eggs in that basket again.
Here is my one idea to throw into the mix. News organizations could begin to offer paid-for services to consumers that help supplement the advertising revenue. Perhaps offering personally configured, organized home pages for a small fee. Or maybe a PDF of your news delivered to your inbox at configurable intervals throughout a day. The advertising from local businesses could be targeted to the consumer based on the types of news they have selected (not unlike Google). Web 2.0 is making this all possible. If news sites keep making us navigate through their selected structure, or read the headlines they suggest it will not be as effective as it could be. Just an idea. An idea that has many flaws I am sure, but some possibilities.
So what are you willing to pay for? There are no free lunches in this world.