A good friend of mine (and client) forwarded me this article about the New York Times looking at charging for its content and it spurred these thoughts about premium content …
Here they are:
I can’t wait to see what happens with the New York Times as it’ll define the newspaper industry somewhat as the Wall Street Journal has been doing with their online model. (The rest of the industry on the national news level is in flames.)
I really think traditional media (and I hate to say this) needs to all topple to the ground …. THEN we’ll really see what rises up in its ashes.
Something WILL rise up in its ashes … and I hope it does. As a former newspaper journalist who transitioned from print to pixel, I still have a fond love of print. In particular, I don’t want to see journalistic standards wash away. That’s one of the persistent knocks I hear from people about “blogging.”
Having said that … I firmly believe that niche publications will continue to exist and perhaps flourish.
There is still a market for “premium” content … but it’s all in how it’s bundled (See our WebDesign.com University as our experiment into this). And my emphasis is on niche publications here.
For instance … in the general news category, it is SUPER competitive and I don’t see a bright future for traditional news because users (through Twitter and bloggers) will only get better and better at scooping them.
Traditional news media will never compete for ‘spot news,’ ever. That day is gone. The power is now with the people than the Paper. There are way too many tools that give the people on the scene the power and freedom to publish it instantly. For example, see the Twitpic of the Hudson River plane crash.
With regards to spot news, traditional media would be good to promote open source philosophy. They should be empowering the common citizen to be reporters on the scene (and some are) and urging them to participate WITH them.
But … I do think niche publications have an edge in being profitable.
It’s like the New Yorker … you can’t get that level of writing or perspective elsewhere.
But general news … it’s EVERYWHERE. In fact, I use Twitter Search and Trending Topics to know who’s won a game now or for breaking news.
In regards to premium content, I think the question comes:
What can’t people get everywhere and how much would they pay for it?
It’s not traditional news. Sorry, guys.
But I do think it is specialized analysis and training – informed opinions and perspectives of experts in niche arenas.
It comes down to expertise that you can’t get everywhere.
THAT’S what people will pay for.
I’ve found people are hungry for niche expert content. They will pay for it if it’s good and from a trusted and reliable source. They’ll pay for interaction with those experts. They’ll pay for continued support for when they have questions. They’ll pay for the community that is built around it.
What do you think?
Update: Got this tweet after publishing the article …