Remember the scene in Blazing Saddles once the sheriff installed a toll booth in the middle of the prairie, and most of the bad guys lined through to horseback to pitch a dollar in the turnstile as opposed to ride around the gate? Classic 1974 Mel Brooks; revisited with an angle of 2009 irony. After the U.C. Berkeley Media Technology Summit held at Google last week, it seems that some strong voices have moved discussions away from paid content. ‘Sell News Online’ won’t ever pass the smell test for 95% of news sites because shhhh…. online news is free.
The turnstile gate is up: readers can undergo it, around it, over it, and obtain news however, whenever, wherever they desire. People are in control, advertisers have voted to spend their dollars elsewhere and media companies perhaps, may be starting to talk about opportunities that scale. But the question remains, will investigative journalism survive the slow, painful transition of the media industry? dollar to naira
Not-for-profit business models like ProPublica are cropping as much as support investigative journalism.
John Temple’s compelling presentation on lessons learned from the Rocky Mountain News included comments that online news needs “more ways for local businesses to reach prospects locally.
Advertisers were not represented. I didn’t see Associations from Restaurants, Car Companies, Auto Dealers, Convention Centers and certainly small businesses were not providing input.
It’s interesting that the bread and butter of the media industry, advertisers, are still not asked what they think and how online news may may play a role in the advertisers’ future. Perhaps now that paid content is on the back burner, (I can make the broad assumption that advertisers were not asked about paid content as a small business model either), perhaps journalists can do what journalists do: research, investigate and report. There are lots of niches, industries and geographies that could provide data and perspective, if analyzed. If media firms had reached out and asked for feedback as early as 2006 when advertisers began to leave newspapers, they might be presenting a different history today.
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