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    What content would you pay for (if any) on a newspaper site?

    by Mark Glaser
    September 21, 2007

    Newspapers online have always struggled with a consistent business model. There have been registration walls, paid content behind walls (including columnists and archives), and various ad schemes from paid search ads to classifieds to interstitial ads that bar entry. Many of the paid content ideas have fallen aside lately, with the boom in online advertising. NYTimes.com dropped its not-so-popular TimesSelect pay wall for its op-ed columnists, and Rupert Murdoch is leaning toward tearing down the Wall Street Journal Online’s paid wall as well. So the question remains: If online newspapers decide to rev up advertising, what happens if there’s a cyclical downturn in ads? What revenues do they rely on? What content would you pay for on a newspaper site? Older archives? Specialized news alerts? Customized feeds? Nothing? Share your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll publish the best ones in a future Your Take Roundup.

    Tagged: advertising comments newspapers
    • Good question! – I would certainly pay for the audio edition of a newspaper (like the one the Economist offers for free to its subscribers). I could also imagine paying for “dossiers”, collections of articles and additional resources on a certain subject. I might pay for aggregation services, for example a summary of the most important articles on a certain subject, delivered by mail.

    • This is a terrific question, and one that my wife and I have asked several times regarding our local paper. We currently don’t subscribe to the paper version of our local paper, and the electronic edition is almost completely behind a subscription wall. We have access to the front page news for free, as well as the classifieds, but all other content must be paid for.

      Which doesn’t make sense at all, considering the current trends in online advertising. I can access videos for free on CNN.com, and read read all the free news content I want on NPR.com, two major news media outlets. If I want, I can even get local and state news for free from our local television news sites, so why won’t our local newspaper do the same?

      If online advertising stays a prominent means for online revenue, I have no plans to ever pay for my local paper online; the cost of them publishing online, and the bandwidth needed is more than covered with ads, and for very important local information I need to know I can always spend 50 cents now and then on the actual paper-printed version.

    • Mark:
      I rounded up some comment on the NYTimes decision at the Newshare blog. One of the most thoughtful posts is by Vin Crosbie, whose family owns a small Connecticut daily, but who says the only content newspapers will ever be able to charge for is niche or personalized material. He also suggests a universal network of content sites accessible with one-password, one-ID simplity, so that a consumer would in effect have a base subscription to vast, multi-site content resources (multimedia included), and would be able to both pay for content and ***be paid*** for viewing sponsored material like ads or video brochures. Start at:
      http://newshare.typepad.com/newshare

    • Jill O’Neill

      I would have continued to pay for monthly access to Times Select but for the fact that the NYTimes erased my library of stored material because I didn’t update credit card information prior to a monthly processing date. I wasn’t paying, in that instance, specifically for the content, but for the stored access to articles that I had found useful and to which I again might need to refer in the future. That’s one point of value newspapers might exploit.

    • Carl

      Real, genuine, step-by-step financial advance. Like tips and tricks from experts that actually help serve the wealthy.

      Basically anything to give me a leg up.

    • I would pay to have my own content on the New York Times site. (i.e. My own YouTube videos commenting on public related matters.)

    • Ted Michael Morgan

      I subscribed to the service that The New York Times offered. I found it and excellent buy. I would gladly pay the equivalent of the newsstand price of that paper. I have not subscribed to The Wall Street Journal even though I bought it daily for several decades. I resisted the online price. I dont know.

      I would not subscribe to my local newspaper even though I think it is a good newspaperin fact, a fine one. I just dont read it daily. I suppose that I might pay $15 a month for it.

    • Ted Michael Morgan

      I subscribed to the service that The New York Times offered. I found it and excellent buy. I would gladly pay the equivalent of the newsstand price of that paper. I have not subscribed to The Wall Street Journal even though I bought it daily for several decades. I resisted the online price. I dont know.

      I would not subscribe to my local newspaper even though I think it is a good newspaperin fact, a fine one. I just dont read it daily. I suppose that I might pay $15 a month for it.

    • I would NOT pay for anything on a newspaper site. I would however, be happy to subscribe, at a reasonable fee, to a digital edition, to be delivered on disc, with necessary data base software and data to be added to my personal database.

      Thanks for asking.

    • I think there are some people who might be willing to pay for two things: the elimination of ads and advance access to stories.

      This latter, of course, depends on whether the paper in question moves its stories on the wires immediately upon setting them, or only after the first print edition goes out. Once it’s on the wires, the cow is out of the barn.

      I think existing print subscribers should be given these as perks of subscription. The day may come when print really does go away, and at that point, the paper has an existing paying relationship. For people who don’t want fishwrap at all, a lower price point today might cannibalize existing subscribership or it might attract new people… I’m really not sure.

      I do think that people who pay to read a paper online should be excused from ads, or have them brought down to a manageable size (no towers, no blinkers, no whack-a-mole, no popups).

    • It’s past time newspaper companies finally got around to thinking less about content and more about creating useful applications on the Web.

      There’s all this talk out there about how we in the media should give blogs to readers, or give them a place to upload photos.

      The problem is why would I use that when I have a flickr account? Or a photobucket account? Or a wordpress account?

      Newspaper.coms are trying the “freemium” method of giving away content and then sticking it into a pay walled archive after a few days. Great business model! Why pay for something you just gave me for free?

      There needs to be real added value to get a lot of people to pay for anything.

      So here’s where I’m going with this:

      1. Open up your archives, especially if you’re already giving it away first. There are lots of reasons I don’t need to get into.

      2. Create flickr or blogger-like services for those users that wish to register (for free) with your site(s). Make a great, useful product. Don’t half-ass it.

      3. Give the best photographers and bloggers opportunity to have their stuff promoted through your newspaper.com and other products (like the paper). Give people a access to your local audience.

      4. Now here’s where you charge people: Extra features for your most involved users.

      5. And if they don’t want to pay, let them into an ad network you’ve created in exchange for those extra features. Use their site, with your service, to gather ad impressions and click-throughs.

      Or give the content creators in your area the option to enter your ad network and share in the profits.

      But then again, we’re talking about the newspaper business. Innovation died in that industry decades ago. What’s it going to take to bring that back.

      Oh, and I’d also consider paying for ad removal. Though, again, software that does this is available for free.

    • I have one word for you: micropayments.

      John Perry Barlow has been thinking about content in world or immateriality since 1992, from his “New bottles for old wine” to its latest manifestation in “Selling wine without bottles on the global net.” First, context aware files could self-destruct if duplicated, bill someone who used them, report on their whereabouts to their creator with encryption that is not out of reach of technologists today (think digital watermark):

      “In most of the schemes I can project, the file would be “alive” with permanently embedded software that could “sense” the surrounding conditions and interact with them, For example, it might contain code that could detect the process of duplication and cause it to self-destruct.

      Other methods might give the file the ability to “phone home” through the Net to its original owner. The continued integrity of some files might require periodic “feeding” with digital cash from their host, which they would then relay back to their authors.”

      As far as payment mechanisms, he goes on:
      “…the generally acknowledged failure of the shareware model in software had less to do with dishonesty than with the simple inconvenience of paying for shareware. If the payment process can be automated, as digital cash and signature will make possible, I believe that soft product creators will reap a much higher return from the bread they cast upon the waters of Cyberspace.”

    • Let’s look at this from a different perspective. Realistically, I think there are three criteria that must be met for any content subscription service to work on the Web.

      1) You need enough readers, where enough is probably in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. Otherwise don’t even bother, because the percentage of people who will pay is too low.

      2) You need content that is sufficiently unique that it can’t be found elsewhere. If readers can find it for free, they will, thanks to Google and others.

      3) Your content has to be sufficiently interesting after it’s no longer current. This eliminates most news sites because they’re covering breaking news, the vast majority of which is interestingly only because it has just happened. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were exceptions here because both are essentially the papers of record.

      So, the simple answer to your initial question is that I’d pay only for evergreen content that I can’t get elsewhere.

      I’ve written more about this at TidBITS in “New York Times Frees Old Articles.”

      http://db.tidbits.com/article/9188

      cheers… -Adam

    • Liam Sauer-Wooden

      What would I be willing to purchase re: newspapers on-line? Serious, well-researched, in-depth articles written to a college-level intelligence, lacking the plethora of grammatical errors that pass for “style” today, and presented without advertisements.

    • Oh my god , thank you so much for his Post Marc, the last Reddit guy looks really fishy to me, talking about how he laughed to other people… He should laugh at hisself mirror

    • It’s honestly hard to say. I don’t understand why newspapers don’t include additional features for subscribers to the print edition. I would be willing to pay a small annual fee for some of the special features that the New York Times now provides for free. The “Times File” is a really great feature and would be worth a few dollars a year.

      I think NYT is doing a great job reinventing the newspaper for the digital age. With mobile becoming more and more a reality (iPhone and Sony Book Reader) digital editions of newspapers will certainly get more and more play — and more and more ad dollars.

      I have to pay for my print subscription, so I guess I could pay for a digital subscription. If papers had a micro-pay daily access — like the $0.35 you pay for a daily paper — that would be fabulous!

    • I would NOT pay for anything on a newspaper site. I would however, be happy to subscribe, at a reasonable fee, to a digital edition, to be delivered on disc, with necessary data base software and data to be added to my personal database.

    • Give the best photographers and bloggers opportunity to have their stuff promoted through your newspaper.com and other products (like the paper). Give people a access to your local audience…

    • Luis’ Parenthesis

      If you believe that value is based on scarcity, you shouldn’t be thinking about selling content. You should be selling editing services.

      To some extent, this is what Google, Digg, Wikipedia and StumbleUpon (to name a few) are already doing: they organize information in such a way that people choose to go to them to be informed. Give them a good reason to consult with you and they might buy your content. Learn to package it better. Ask yourself what is your information worth to your public. Or, at least, give them a reason to hang around while you charge them for wasting their time on you. Learn to use their free time for your own profit.

      You might remember that the Internet was built to survive a nuclear attack: if a node on the network blows up, its traffic bypasses to reach destination anyway. Content on the Internet follows the same rules. There is so much of it out there that no single source remains indispensable. If you want to offer real value, you have to look elsewhere.

    • I would NOT pay for anything on a newspaper site

    • Your comment contains very useful information about all thank you ince tercman

    • Give the best photographers and bloggers opportunity to have their stuff promoted through your newspaper.com and other products (like the paper). Give people a access to your local audience…

    • To be honest, I don’t think I would pay anything for a newspaper site. I may only pay for a printed copy of the newspaper (which is the traditional way) or, perhaps, audio or video on the site but nothing more than that. I see no reason to pay. Perhaps, what they could do, is create some sort of online community at the site and make you pay for certain benefits (like, free advertising or something like that) but that would be a whole different story.

    • thanks

    • thanks

    • Give the best photographers and bloggers opportunity to have their stuff promoted through your newspaper.com and other products (like the paper). Give people a access to your local audience…

    • Your comment contains very useful information about all thank you

    • Your comment contains very useful information about all thank you

    • Robert Bascom

      If we were not already being ripped off by the ISPs, Cable and Wireless Companies (most monthly bills for these total between $150 and $300), we might consider paying for specific content (depending on individual tastes and interests). But then only if we could not find it for free somewhere else.

      The capitalist model is a two-way street: you can try to rip us off as much as you like, but we can keep trying to pay as little as possible. Content providers should go to the ISPs, Cable and Wireless Companies and ask for a share of their take. Consumers are “subscriptioned” out, especially with the economy as it is now.

    • I loved super

    • The capitalist model is a two-way street: you can try to rip us off as much as you like, but we can keep trying to pay as little as possible. Content providers should go to the ISPs, Cable and Wireless Companies and ask for a share of their take. Consumers are “subscripti

    • Many of you recall that former conservative Eugene Mayor Jim Torrey ran for the Oregon State Senate in 2006 against Senator Vicki Walker. He lost, but it was one of the most expensive races in legislative history because his friends have very deep pockets and he has an incredible ability to appear moderate because he doesn’t let facts get in the way.

    • Thank you for this post..

    • I pay for older archives.

    • İt is very diffucult to answer. Bu i think it is new alerts.

    • I dont want to pay. But I want to earn.

    • i don’t think i would pay anything for a newspaper site.

    • I would NOT pay for anything on a newspaper site
      too.

    • i don’t think i would pay anything for a newspaper site too.

    • I would NOT pay for any money on a newspaper site

    • the cost of them publishing online, and the bandwidth needed is more than covered with ads, and for very important local information I need to know I can always spend 50 cents now and then on the actual paper-printed version.

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