Published: Thursday, July 25 2013 12:35 p.m. MDT
One of the iron laws of information is that cheap information will always
prevail over expensive information.Expensive info that is biased and hyped
will not prevail. Most media outlets will realize that paywall articles will
sell about as well and paper copies. In other words, they will not survive on
paid electronic subscriptions.
People will seek out free info.
The most popular sites will likely look to limit access to content in the
future. ESPN does it by offering premium content and access to subscribers,
while keeping base content free with traffic high. Eventually, more and more
sites will follow this model, and more basic will be deemed premium. We need to
accept that simply trying to make money through marketing and advertising on the
site will be unsustainable, or at least revenue limiting.On the flip
side, the more we see popular sites doing this, the more it opens the door for
new entrants to get a foot in the door, by starting out fully free and
accessible, and spreading through social channels. Those investments will
probably keep the pay-wall trend from moving too costly in the short term.
As long as there is free content available, paywalls will backfire. This is
especially true of news content, where several sources, both free and
subscription based, can cover the same information with the same, or close to
the same, degree of quality.
Today the barrier-to-entry for journalism is almost zero - that's a change
from the old days. Back then you had to start a newspaper, radio station, or TV
station - all of those options cost millions of dollars. Today all you need is
a web domain, a computer, a digital voice recorder, and enough nerve to seek out
the people you need to talk to.Moral of the story: Anybody arrogant
enough to think they can charge for internet content will find that there's
somebody out there who can do a close enough job and will do it for free (or
just ad revenue).
To be free you have to help others to be free.
The big mistake of early Internet news businesses was how they offered their
products -- news, entertainment, games, etc. -- for free. Who profited from
this? Google. Google organized and delivered the media content with ads to
consumers, and ended up reaping the biggest profits from news media... and yet,
Google doesn't have one reporter on its staff! Consequently, you had
newspapers PAYING to generate news, but the vast majority of their potential
profits went to Google and the search engine industry because they created a
business model that newspapers couldn't recognize. As the
journalism industry has crashed -- even the Des News has endured massive layoffs
of its professional reporters and many career advisers tell college students to
avoid journalism as a major given that the prospects of news reporting looks
bleak -- newspapers are waking up to the reality that they must "sell"
their product to turn a profit.Paywalls are just the first step.
Ads preceding video news sequences is another income generator. The future will
increasingly be that "free" news will be of lower quality/biased/lesser
oversight with people seeking out the Wall Street Journal and other quality
outlets for hard news.
For genealogy, there are many free sites, but the sites that charge for content
are doing well nonetheless. So it is possible from free and pay sites to
coexist.I suspect that news sites will end up being similar. You
will be able to get basic information for free, but if you want insightful
analysis and in-depth details, you will have to pay. Which is fair, because
adding depth and analysis is expensive.
Here we go as greed wins again. All the add pop ups and now a charge as well.
The Internet is great but you will only hurt the poor with more cost. Oh wait
the poor get free phones from tax money. That means the middle class gets hit
again. The bums rich or poor get the information.
DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.— About comments