The News Tornado: Part 3
Finding the new news business model.
If we want to solve the problem with ad revenues:
The solution, if we want to keep high-quality news being produced on an ad-supported model, is to somehow find some form of news that is i) high quality, ii) in depth, and iii) still entertaining.
Think about Apple. It’s one of the rare cases of a wildly successful mass-market product that is of “good taste.” If we can’t, sometimes, rely on the mass’s tastes to pick up the wheat from the chaff (think about entertainment - the movie business is succumbing to Avengers 5, X-Men 12, etc -, “news” with Buzzfeed, you get the point) we’ll need a visionary leader who can build desirability into high-quality journalism.
If we want to solve the problem with paid access:
We need to find a way to empower customers, and reduce transaction friction. How about charging users a low price on a per-article basis? Not handcuffing users for monthly subscription fees, as is the norm, but charging, like, 5 cents per article, on all articles? It would have to be frictionless. You’d have to set up your payment details beforehand, so that no time would be wasted with credit cards on a day-to-day basis. Think a little bit like Apple’s Itunes Store. Buy individual articles just like you’d buy individual songs. It’s worse than subscriptions, just like songs are worse than albums? Sure, but it’s still better than free!
I don’t think the solution for the news business is the current free-x model. WSJ let’s you read the first few paragraphs, but asks for a subscription. The Economist and Harvard Business Review let you in on a number of monthly free articles, before charging. Nobody will pay, either way. Somebody else will have to be the platform.
Why I think Twitter could be the solution:
Twitter already serves as a massive news aggregator. My timeline looks exactly like a news syndication platform, with links to full articles. Twitter could charge me some money for full articles (like the 5 cents I just proposed), keep a fee, like 20%, and send the rest to the publishers. Users would buy what they want, and only what they want. Impulse purchases would be enabled by the low price tags, and the payment friction would be reduced by Twitter.