What’s next in the quest to fund online news?
If you read my last post, Think bigger than micropayments, you may be wondering what steps are being taken right now to ensure a future for newspapers. Let me clarify a few things first.
- 1. Journalism will always have a future. Newspapers are only one form of journalism production.
- 2. Ideas are constantly being brought to light and critiqued. The two ideas receiving the most attention right now are micropayments, which I believe cannot attract an audience seeking quick, easy and unintruding online news sources, and endowing the press, which would create ethical problems, misplace responsibility and reduce hard work.
We’re living in a time where journalism is not just in print newspapers anymore. Unfortunately, the media have not adapted well to the changing times. The only way to usher them into the year 2009 is to form a new system that encourages competition, especially in multimedia journalism, while adapting to each user’s needs. We are in a “me” culture where everyone seeks products that cater to their unique needs. Anything that adds unnecessary work is not valuable. A system that provides this will force news sites to produce a well-rounded information centre.
Bill Densmore, currently working at Reynolds Journalism Institute, contacted me after reading my blog article. He is involved in the creation of the Information Valet Project, which is forming exactly that. The program will connect various online news sites and fund them through demographic-directed advertising. While details on all funding options are vague, I hope to see several choices for the users. I believe a free per-click allowance is an important option, and it must offer enough page views that casual web surfers are not discouraged from viewing the news sites. However, there is a large audience that purchased paper subscriptions at one time who would be willing to pay a similar amount to aid the companies who produce journalism they enjoy. It would not be a compulsory purchase nor would it be absurd.
Also, I imagine that an ad-oriented version should be available. Perhaps it would have additional free views at the cost of several minutes filling out questionnaires so that advertisements better target consumers. Perhaps it would be entirely free while other versions contained no advertising.
Another option is to provide alternative ways to earn page views, instead of paying for more. They could be sponsored games, quizzes or a variety of other things. My understanding is that IVP plans to reward referrals; I’m not clear on how yet.
IVP will release a technology demo in the next few months. Right now, they are still searching for ways to promote and strengthen the idea. I’m looking forward to participating in the brainstorming process! If you have ideas or comments please share them with me, Mr. Densmore or post on the IVP web site.