A lot of great journalists have lost their jobs in the past year. A lot of great newspapers have gone under in the past year. Despite what many might want you to believe, journalism is not dying. Google is not to blame. And there is a strong and vibrant outlook for journalism – it will probably just look a lot different.
I’m fortunate to have shared passions for journalism, public relations, and technology. As time goes by, I see more and more of an intersection between these three areas. We’re now at a point where technology is going to be even more critical to connecting content producers with sources of information, as can be seen with the rapid growth in popularity of new communication platforms like Twitter.
Regardless of how many journalists find themselves out of work in traditional newspaper environments, there are many new business models out there that will support the continued need for professional journalists. Whether a newspaper, website, blog, or tweet stream, few individuals are better suited than a professionally trained journalist to deliver the news. There will always be a need for journalists, no matter how much the medium changes.
Jeff Jarvis recently highlighted a couple of business models being worked on in the New Business Models for News Project at CUNY in a post on his BuzzMachine blog. The three business models mentioned include:
- Hyperlocal from the local perspective
- A news ecosystem that comes after a metro paper
- Paid content
His post provides an in-depth summary of the paid content model and the driving forces behind it. There are some good nuggets to consider here when considering new ways to monetize journalism. There are many ways to monetize content, and this is where the real opportunity lies for media companies today. Those that figure it out will prosper and journalism will live on.
There are a lot of skeptics around the paid content issue. But really, as consumers, we’ve always paid for the “best” content. Advertising is not the only way to generate revenues – as many think media can not survive without advertising. Take for example an industry like book publishing, where people pay for content. Have you seen ads in books? Most don’t use advertising to generate revenues off books.
Another area to look at is research or industry reports, which are regularly purchased by consumers for the value of their content. If the content is valuable enough, consumers and businesses will pay for the content. This is where journalists come in. A skilled, professional journalist is capable of delivering valuable content consistently for readers. Are there better models than paid content and ad-supported content? Sure. Could paid content still work? Absolutely.
The key to making the paid content model work is quality content. This is where the focus must be to engage and retain a loyal readership. There are many publications I will continue to subscribe to. The key for these publications is to figure out how to shift their business model from advertising to other areas to support the needs of the business. In this area, new market players will have an advantage over slow-to-change traditional publishers.
It will be interesting to see what the next 12 months bring in terms of new business models for journalism and paid content. For now, I stand by my position that we’ll always need a healthy supply of professional journalists to support these new models.