Thursday, September 10, 2009

Monetising media and the future of journalism

Well, it seems to me that Rupert Murdoch hasn’t realised that content is no longer scarce. Content is created in many places and the marginal cost of distributing it is close to zero. According to Universal McCann’s Wave 4 report, social networks are becoming the dominant platform for content creation and content sharing. That said, I do think there is value in professionally produced content that people will be willing to pay for. Kevin Kelly has an excellent piece on eight value generators: immediacy, personalisation, interpretation, authenticity, embodiment, patronage and findability. There is plenty of incentive there to motivate people to part with some money – as long as its not complex or uncertain. There is some work to do on formulating the right mix of subscription and transaction charges.

And the question remains, how much are people willing to pay? Moreover, the same question may well apply to TV (see the Razorfish Digital Outlook Report 2009 chapter TV at a crossroads. After all, advertising revenue is moving from broadcasting to online as well, as well as the fragmentation problem from multiple channels, time shifting and so on.

I came across a video of a US panel session on newspapers & the future of media via Gerd Leonhard, a media futurist. Click on the Gerd link to view the first 10 minutes of the session, or view the full one hour session (or part thereof) on

The event was hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California. All four panellists – from a newspaper, community funded reporting start-up, media aggregation start-up and academia – agreed that the traditional newspaper business model is toast but that journalism will remain a force. I’ve noted a good level of interest about trends in the newspaper sector and the future of journalism more generally. The panellists have an excellent knowledge of the media and cover some interesting emerging and potential developments. Can I recommend the full program to those of you with such an interest.

The newspaper representative said that the old newspaper model of 80% revenue from advertising and 20% from circulation is certainly dead. But he seems to think that print will be around for a while yet. Other interesting comments made by panellists were that:

* people still want content - people feel more connected to the community through access to content - it is the packaging that is changing
* there are likely to be different models to suit different audiences
* professional journalists can collaborate with citizen journalists, adding value in the process
* other forms of professional content, citizen journalism and consumer interaction are likely to focus on personalising media aggregation and sharing.

The community funded content outfit is Spot Us, an online “market place where independent reporters, community members & news organisations can come together & collaborate”. Kachingle is the start-up exploring new ways to monetise content on the basis of personal selection/preference aggregation.

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