Are we facing online newspaper subscriptions again?
Siobhan O’Connell wrote an interesting piece in the yesterdays Irish Times about how newspapers need to make online content profitable. One of the things I took from it was that broadsheets are losing readership numbers to tabloids which would appear to be more linked to the lack of an online presence than the editorial. The arguement being that most broadsheets are freely available online while tabloids like the Star feature little more than an ad. If you cannot get it online you are forced to buy the physical product. Not a very encouraging sign or trend. The online subscription model has with a few exceptions failed but Times Ann Moore looks like reopening the debate.
Who started this rumour that all information should be free and why didn’t we challenge this when it first came out? I say this in college classrooms and they start to throw their shoes at me. I say, ‘Kids, your food is not free and your cars are not free, your clothes are not free. Good information costs money. Someone has to pay for the Baghdad bureau’.”
This is understandable in a era of dropping ad revenues but its extremely hard to get people to pay for content and even harder if they are used to getting it for free. It appears more like a desperate attempt by media publications to steam losses than a concerted effort to monitise their online models.
As usual the industry will find ways around this. One interesting development is the paper reviews by Campbell Scott of IGO People and Bernie Goldbach. They use very simple technology to talk through stories they enjoyed in the media, which they record with mobile phones and upload to mobile video shaing site QIK. Of course if they agreed to show the ads then everyone would be happy…wouldnt they?
From a very selfish simplistic PR viewpoint the more opportunities that people have to view a story about a client the better………that is until its a negative one and then we curse the longevity, reach and viral nature of the web stories.