I think one of the most important ideas that needs to spread through the internet at large is that some things are worth paying for. That’s how businesses are formed.
In past, newspapers have been worth paying for largely because the news was hard to get for free. The delivery service—the transmission of news—was worth paying for.
As everyone and their three-legged-dog now knows, the internet makes it close to impossible to build a business that charges for delivery of information. So if delivering information is no longer a service worth paying for, what is?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the reason I’m writing this post is because of a particular sentence in a resolutions for journalists post on everyday journalism:
The first step to reversing journalism’s tarnished image is to have the guts to dig for information the public can’t easily find themselves, and be an advocate of unbiased, straightforward truth.
That sounds like to key to a good news business plan to me: dig for information the public can’t easily find themselves. That’s your value right there.
I’ve argued for some time on this blog that newspapers need to find ways to continue charging money for their services. It’s just a matter of redefining that service.
I think that metered content is a great halfway-step idea that lets a newspaper charge people without stifling the conversation or gating access to a runaway popular story.
Start running your newspaper like it’s a product that’s worth paying for, and you’ll earn the privilege to charge for your service again.