I was recently asked by the Argus Leader, a local newspaper in Sioux Falls, to give my two cents on the controversial South Dakota #DontJerkandDrive campaign. Since then the article has been syndicated out to USA Today and other publications. It seems that I caught the attention of a reporter when I labeled the campaign as "brilliant" on Twitter.
Yesterday, the Argus Leader announced that they will be moving toward a subscription model for their online content. Readers no longer will be able to visit ArgusLeader.com and expect to be able to read all the content for free. I didn't visit the website too often, but I'll miss the freedom to come and go as I please without being an online subscriber.
The 1994 Knight-Ridder video I attached at the bottom of this post is a fantastic reminder that the tablet predates the iPad and Android tablet by many decades. During the "hypermedia" era of the late 1980's, I can recall taking a "tech of the future" class where my professor discussed in similar detail what a tablet might look like in the future. He described a day where students would be sitting under trees reading not from paper books but utilizing exactly what we know today as the digital tablet.
Believe it or not though, the origins of the tablet computer date back to the 19th century.
There has been a lot of articles written lately on Rupert Murdoch's latest comments regarding the need to charge online readers for the content they access to the business model The Wall Street Journal utilizes. Murdoch recently announced that additional News Corp's newspapers would be charging users access to their online content.
Speaking on a conference call as News Corporation announced a 47 percent slide in quarterly profits to $755 million, Murdoch said the current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed.
"We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning," the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said.
"We have been at the forefront of that debate and you can confidently presume that we are leading the way in finding a model that maximizes revenues in return for our shareholders... The current days of the Internet will soon be over."
That pay for content business model that Murdoch wishes to spread to the the rest of the News Corp holdings has worked pretty well for the WSJ. Yearly subscription to WSJ.com is around $100 and the business news site recently introduced a cheaper micro-payment system. Deane Barker recently pointed out this story on his Gadgetopia blog. Barker points out that this business model could possibly work for additional online news sources, but Murdoch needs "another big player on the bandwagon, and he might kick the snowball off the hill. Gannet? New York Times Company?". Barker's point is that for News Corp's subscription model to work, access to news content needs to be limited at other places online too. In my opinion, a fight against free online content is a war that has already been lost.
As a subscriber to the WSJ in both print and online content, I do see paid online subscriptions working for niche news sites. I however have serious doubts that the model can work for general news. People are willing to pay and only pay for content they can get nowhere else online. The news articles found in the WSJ is unique content and since its also content of value, I'm willing to pay for it. However, reporting general news is a much different game. Even if the majority of newspapers started charging access to their content it only takes one newspaper willing to offer that same story for free to break the pay for access model.
You know you're getting old when...
...younger people discover the benefits of paper.
The printed pages were better then just looking at the digital versions, since we could code on our laptops while looking at the printouts, compare different pages, sit around pages and discuss and have all this goodness at our fingertips.
My respects to Drupal developer Gábor Hojtsy for his good reminder on the benefits of non-technology in the things that we do.
The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism does a fantastic job reporting annually on the state of the American news media. The Pew Project's sixth edition for 2009 is no exception and provides lessons for all businesses on the importance of agility, adaptability, and competitiveness. The following paragraph from the report's introduction says it all.
Journalism, deluded by its profitability and fearful of technology, let others outside the industry steal chance after chance online. By 2008, the industry had finally begun to get serious. Now the global recession has made that harder.
This is the sixth edition of our annual report on the State of the News Media in the United States.
It is also the bleakest.
Mark Van Pattern has written a piece on PBS's MediaShift titled, "How the Focus on Print Hurts Our Newspaper Site". His story is a common story I hear time after time from those in the newspaper business.
It's definitely no tangled bureaucracy, but even within this simple system you find conflicts holding the website back. The problem is that the different people in that system just have different priorities. As general manager, I want to see both a strong online presence and continued healthy print circulation. In contrast, the managing editor doesn't want to "hurt" the print edition by making the online edition too strong, fearing that it could tempt subscribers to abandon print.