Over the past couple of years I’ve listened as people talk about the future of traditional media and of course how it will effect PR. It is quite clear that the media industry is in decline. This is primarily due to a decrease in advertising spend and people moving online to search for their news. Over the past 10 years, media organisations have increased their online presence, but most have not monitised their sites. Whether this was becuase they didn’t know how to or becuase they didn’t think they needed to, is now besides the point.  They need to start making money online and fast.

Currently a few papers like the Financial Times and the New York Times charge for online content but News Corp and other groups have been monitoring the situation and are getting ready to introduce paid for content:

Promising to announce major developments “in the next two months,” the owner of the Sun and Wall Street Journal said consumers want content on an array of devices, and are willing to pay.

Mr Murdoch disclosed that News Corp is in “advanced discussions” with other media companies about how to monetise newspaper content.

The Telegraph – Feb 2010

Can they make it work?  Well, the Financial Times has 117,000 paying subscribers so it’s clearly working for them: They have a unique selling point, target a very specific audience, and give them exactly what they want. In this case it is financial news, information, links and advice which is trustworthy, credible and in one place.

The problem for more general news providers is the surplus of  similar providers on the internet. Plus I read a story today where readers can get read content on the New York Times for free via Facebook and Twitter. And of course the BBC is probably the biggest media provider threat of all. They are government owned and we pay for them, so they don’t need to worry about monitisation. They also have a very large and established audience who probably believe that the BBC are more credible and trustworthy than other news providers. I think the solution is to provide unique, credible content that can’t be found elsewhere. I’ve heard that News Corpo might use celebrity exclusives as paid for sections on the website. It could work, but they need to do it better than Perez Hilton and other gossip bloggers. They also need to think about how they compete social networks like Twitter where celebrities are breaking their own stories.

The future of the media still hangs in the balance. Will paid for content work? What do you think?

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About sarajanebrown

I'm a former journalist with online and offline, internal and external PR and Comms experience in a variety of industries.

2 responses »

  1. Dave_DelCol says:

    I can’t imagine that charging for content like that will ever work. Top newspapers are seeing record declines and charging for content isn’t going to make them more appealing. News and information is so much more refined and easily accessible on social media sites that news sites are almost obsolete. If I wanted to know about the latest news regarding Japan I would go to Twitter and search a trending hashtag about the topic. The accessibility that sites like Twitter offer to easily come across information and have it in such abundance makes more basic institutions simply bland and boring.

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