Chuck's Q Blog

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Just another ICM blog

Making a buck online

I was talking to someone a few weeks ago who didn’t understand why newspapers publish their stories online for free but make people pay for the print version.

Good question. As soon as they figure out how to charge for the information online — without stifling traffic — they will. It’s a pretty fine line; one the industry is struggling with.

When most newspapers and magazines went to the Web, nearly everything there was free for the taking. Advertising was expected to support the sites — the same as in print — but since the Web gave everyone the ability to become a publisher overnight, a flood of cheap ad placement opportunities diluted the revenue stream.

Many publications attempted to charge for their websites, but even when the fees were modest, the concept was a turnoff to people who only read the paper online.  Read the rest of this entry »

Writing the new rules

Ask any newspaper editor where his company went wrong online and most will say, “We should have found a way to charge for the content.”

Though I’d argue that paper’s aren’t really “giving away” their online content (there is ad support, albeit not the kind that pays when compared to print ads), the new wave of delivery platforms may offer a chance for some news organizations to hit the reset button.

Each new platform will needs to find an audience. Once that happens, it’s up to content providers to decide how to package their product for that platform and what the traffic will bear in terms of pricing.

E-readers, like the Kindle and Nook, have found an audience (though the size of that group is a question). Both established that their products — mainly books, in this case — would be cheaper to buy in this format, but not free.

With the rules of the platform established, newspapers and magazines followed publishers to the e-reader market with subscription-based products. They already knew the people who owned these devices were willing to pay for content.

A single copy of the Columbus Dispatch will set you back $1 on the newsstand. It’s also a $1 on a Sony e-reader and  75 cents on a Kindle or Nook.

The same stories are free online and it’s iPhone app is free as well. (The rules for iPhone apps aren’t hard and fast, but free seems to be winning that fight.)

But when the paper develops an iPad app, how will it approach pricing? Read the rest of this entry »

Pogue’s slippery slope

David Pogue of the New York Times

David Pogue of the New York Times

Earlier today, Dr. Alex raised the musical question Is David Pogue a journalist?

The short answer is yes, despite what Pogue says. But the real question is deeper.

Pogue says he never claimed to be a reporter and that he didn’t go to journalism school. My undergraduate degree is in political science, but I’ve worked as a journalist for nearly 30 years.

But the fact that Pogue is a columnist and not a reporter also isn’t the point. The New York Times, like most other large newspapers, has an ethics policy that spells out the kind of freelance work Pogue and other employees are allowed to do under the terms of their employment. The policy clearly states that “Staff members must ensure that their freelance work does not interfere with their normal responsibilities.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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