Are you willing to pay for the news. That is what Rupert Murdoch maybe betting on. Rupert Murdoch is the owner of a media empire which includes the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Lately he has been talking about removing his news empire from Google Search and putting them behind a pay wall
Clearly for this to work it would depend on if people are willing to pay for their news. I found an article on Technologizer that said that 45% of people surveyed were willing to pay for news. When I saw this article red flags immediately went up in my head, based on what I had previously heard and read. I wanted to find out more about this survey. The original article came from the New York Times, upon reading the Times’ article I found that the survey was done by the Boston Consulting Group.
I went to their Web site, where there was a fuller explanation of the survey. People are willing to pay for the news, but only under narrow and specific circumstances. This is the key paragraph that the New York Times and Tech chose to ignore.
“• Unique, such as local news (67 percent overall are interested; 72 percent of U.S. respondents) or specialized coverage (63 percent overall are interested; 73 percent of U.S. respondents)
• Timely, such as a continual news alert service (54 percent overall are interested; 61 percent of U.S. respondents)
• Conveniently accessible on a device of choice.”
Consumer, however are not willing to pay for news that is freely available all over the Internet. The consumers that are most willing to pay for their news are those that are already paying for newspaper. I suspect that this is an older and increasingly smaller audience. Even if consumer are willing to pay for their subscription, they are not willing to pay enough to make up for the lost of advertisement that newspapers have been dealing with. A pay wall might slow the decline but it will not stop it. The only way that newspapers can survive is to adapt to the new world, the old model is no longer viable and to try to save it is doom to fail
- News is moving online. People want instant access to news without waiting until the next morning or afternoon.
- The recession has caused a terrifying drop in printed advertising causing a quick but low profit move online.
- Local news companies must move to quick unabbreviated news online that incorporates local business advertising.
- Local businesses must move online with a web presence that brings both foot traffic to the brick and mortar store as well as an online business.
The Fargo Forum moved to a CMS and used their site extremely well during the recent flood. The site is not necessarily as polished and easy to navigate as Foxnews.com, but a good start in the online news business. However, the prime advertising real estate on the site is for Forum operated sites. Sites that local businesses can join and participate/advertise in. Really they are ads for the Forum classifieds (i.e. Homes, Apartments, Cars, etc.) There are really very few ads for individual businesses. And once you visit the the business you may or may not be greeted by a discount or sales offer. This must change if local news and businesses are going to make the transition. The Forum is definitely in the game and making progress but it has room to grow.
The online move of news could force more and more local businesses to develop a true online presence. It may not mean an online store, but it will mean an online version of what they would have had printed in the paper. Additionally, they can have the equivalent of an entire sales flier for the price of an online click-through ad. Could this mean a resurgence for web developers as local businesses must build dynamic CMS sites? I believe that the local news agencies and businesses that catch on to this partnership and market will rediscover the advertising gold mine. The early bird will get the worm.
It seems newspapers are falling like dominoes, and quite honestly I think it is going to get much worse for other papers nationwide. If your like me, during the weekdays I simply do not have time to read the paper I get my news fix online. On Sunday I usually have some time but I usually skip 90% of the news because its dated.
The main reason we get the Sunday paper at all is that my lovely wife likes to score the coupons that come in the Sunday paper. I usually review the sales flyers and maybe the Hawaii section. The rest of the newspaper is generally full of commentary that I largely can not relate with or have already read online 3–4 days earlier.
While I have never read the Boston Globe, if the news and commentary is anything like the Honolulu Advertiser I can only imagine that the Honolulu Advertiser may be headed down the same path as the Boston Globe.
While it is sad to see these big newspapers fail maybe it is time for them to scale back and only cover local news, and leave national reporting and commentary to Internet coverage.