— And, actually, the argument seems to be working…
For many newspaper bosses, the introduction of an online paywall is intimidating. “How,” they wonder, “will we convince readers to pay for content they currently enjoy for free?” But for Alan English, executive editor of the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, explaining his paper’s recent decision to charge for some digital material isn’t scary at all.
“It’s an easy conversation with the reader,” English said. “‘Would you buy your favorite reporter a cup of coffee for all the work they do for you in a month?’”
— Staci Kramer doesn’t seem to like the New York Post’s new strategy to find iPad subscribers. And it’s not hard to see her point.
It must have sounded like a great idea to someone at News Corp at the time: “Hey, I know how we can sell more subscriptions through the New York Post iPad App! Let’s block access through iPad Safari and make them go to the app instead.” What they should have heard: “Hey, let’s make our editorial content as inaccessible and irrelevant as possible and send iPad users to other options. Oh, and at the same time, let’s take three giant steps back.”
Even better, apparently no one there noticed or cared that users of other iPad browsers like Skyfire and Opera Mini can slip right in.
It is one of the most poorly conceived paywall efforts I’ve come across—and I’ve seen more than a few.
— Two out of four points used by former Guardian reporter Kevin Anderson to criticize the paper’s digital first prospects.
1. Building a sustainable business is not evil
The Guardian needs to realise that making money to support journalism is no sin. There is a lot of moral space between being a sustainable journalism enterprise and being a voracious media mogul like Rupert Murdoch. I’d love to see The Guardian demonstrate how to create a financially sustainable journalism business, but it will have to challenge its own anti-commercial culture.
2. Editorial innovation alone is not enough
The Guardian is innovative, but it also shows that technical and editorial innovation are not enough on their own to guarantee a sustainable journalism business. Digital first without a business focus will still leave it in dire straits. If The Guardian is going to devote 80% of its resources to digital, as is implied by Dan Sabagh’s article, it has got to develop new revenue streams to support its digital first strategy.
— More on the changes at The Guardian.
As a response both to changing reader habits and the business model underpinning print, The Guardian will cut back on newspaper pages and run less news reporting in them by next March.
“Only four percent of our readers read the paper for breaking news stories in the morning - they read in print in the evening rather than earlier in the day,” Miller said. ‘We’ll do a reformatted daily newspaper in this financial year, with more analysis, longer pieces.”
— The Washington Post’s Raju Narisetti, a managing editor responsible for digital strategy, is pessimistic.
— A metered model makes your business susceptible to the will of a few readers—those who consume the most articles/pages. Often, less than 5% of these kinds of visitors account for nearly 50% of your page views. And they have very little barriers to exit.
— Aggregators, like Huffington Post, will still find ways to deliver your content for free and often with more engaging technologies since they don’t have to invest much in content creation.
— The infrastructure for payment systems, data security, customer service, reader acquisition and retention for digital subscriptions costs a bundle to build and run, yet your consumer price points need to be low, making the return on investment a clear challenge.
— Our Web sites were to be trusted safe havens protecting, informing and entertaining you amid a deluge of digital content. And when you came to us, we would make money off you. But that was before your friends became your trusted sources. There are 600 million of you on Facebook and we know we need to be there too with our content. We haven’t even begun to fathom that monetization challenge. So, we could up end an expensive drawbridge around Web sites that are already losing their value?
— Scrolling on Web sites has always been a poor experience for consuming news. Now, just as new devices and digital experiences—none invented by major news brands—create richer engagement outside our sites, we are talking about charging readers for sub-optimal Web site consumption.
— Not bad, 50% paid users.
The Economist’s iPad and iPhone apps have been downloaded two million times since they were launched in November 2010, with around 650,000 readers accessing content every month.
More than 50 per cent of those using the free app are paying to view content, with others accessing the limited “editor’s highlights” articles free. Around 20 per cent of print subscribers, who are able to access digital content at no extra cost, are using the iPad app regularly.
— Alan Rusbridger, the editor-in-chief of The Guardian, is announcing today their Digital First strategy of “open” journalism. The paper comes in second.
Every newspaper is on a journey into some kind of digital future. That doesn’t mean getting out of print, but it does require a greater focus of attention, imagination and resource on the various forms that digital future is likely to take.
The Guardian has consistently led the way on digital innovation and is currently showing year on year growth of 40 per cent. We are expanding into America and continuing to pioneer what we call open journalism – editorial content which is collaborative, linked into and networked with the rest of the web.
We will also be changing the printed Monday to Friday newspaper to take account of changing patterns of readership and advertising. Half our readers now read the paper in the evening: they get their breaking news from our website or on mobile. […]
By becoming a digital-first organisation we’re taking the next natural step, one which we believe all newspapers will eventually have to take.”
The Pearson-owned title is thought to be looking to leverage findings from its own analytics that show users referred from Facebook are three times as likely to subscribe as those from other sources, such as search. LinkedIn users are six times as likely to become a subscriber.— The Financial Times has an actual strategy for social media.
Katherine Vander from the ICO told Journalism.co.uk that websites must, during the next few months, concentrate on getting their houses in order to make sure they comply with the new EU directive that came into force in the UK on 26 May which states users have to confirm they accept cookies before a website can drop them. Before that date internet users merely had to opt out of receiving cookies if they did not want their data collected.— Yup. News sites in Britain will have to warn users they have cookies.
I teach here and there, and the problem is that the escalator that brings you to the quality weekly, the small daily, the small regional daily, the bigger daily, the higher quality regional paper, and then on to The New York Times—that escalator is broken. I do think that there are a lot of great places for a young writer to aspire to work for, and some of them are on paper and some of them are not. But I think one of the things that Page One does an amazing job of demonstrating is the importance of editors. You can see our editor, Bruce Headlam, shaping, arguing, pushing back. Of course, that’s what you don’t have a lot of in the blogosphere. There is nobody pushing people to support what they’re saying, nobody arguing against the assumptions that are brought to the table—and reporters, even the ones I work with, are full of all sorts of notions. Some of them have ideas that are pretty hair-brained or not really provable.— David Carr, the New York Times’ media columnist, gives a long interview to Andrew Sorkin for Interview magazine. He’s not only an astute, wild critic. Carr has led a very interesting life. And so has Sorkin, the scriptwriter behind West Wing and The Social Network. Interesting conversation.