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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Benton’

Who Will Pay For News Content Online?

wwpost2.jpgBack in November, New York magazine asked of 100 people walking around SoHo about online content, and found that while an almost equal number admitted to getting just as much information from traditional newspapers as from the Internet, the majority (63 percent) said that they wouldn’t shell out cash to read The New York Times online.

Now a new poll by CNET proves that this particular subset of New Yorkers may have not have been the norm: the number of people unwilling to pay for content in America is actually much higher.

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Micropayments: Pay Walls’ Happy Medium?

cents.jpgWhen entertainment industry trade Variety decided to put its online content behind a pay wall earlier this month, it promised options for how users would go about paying. (Random selection being one of the more out there ideas we’ve heard for pay walls, but hey, everyone is trying something new.)

Other Web sites like those belonging to The Financial Times have embarked on a plan that would eventually allow users to purchase individual articles for a small fee, much like buying a song from iTunes for 99 cents instead of the whole album for $10.

Media analysts don’t necessarily agree that bringing down the price of content (even if it costs customers more money in the long run) will make potential readers take out their wallets. Jay Rosen New York University journalism professor, Bryan Keefer of The Daily Beast and Josh Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab both see the chink in pay walls’ armor as being that the majority of people just won’t pay for content in its current state, period. (Rosen actually predicted the paradoxical idea of paid-for “exclusivity” appealing to link-obsessed readers in a 2005 article for The Huffington Post.) So the people already paying for subscriptions will continue to pay, and the rest won’t be typing in their credit card information, no matter how small the fee is.

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2010: The Year Of The e-Reader Paradox

kk.jpgYou may have been reading books digitally for over a year now, you may have gotten a Kindle in your stocking this Christmas, or you may still be one of the millions of Americans who don’t see the point in purchasing a giant, clunky device that seemingly performs the same functions as downloading a newspaper’s application on your iPhone or buying a book. But no matter which category you fall into, this will be the year of the e-reader: devices like Apple’s much-anticipated Tablet and Microsoft’s Courier herald its arrival in a siren song for newspaper and magazine publishers. Why else would News Corp. be making deals with Sony for exclusive New York Post digital content, or Hearst be working with Skiff to develop its own device and e-reading platform that promises to “create an entity by publishers, for publishers” with its own advertising model. You know, just what consumers are asking for.

Right now, it seems like what consumers want is just an afterthought. Giving readers a rewarding reading experience is only the honey that will lure advertisers to buy space on digital devices, thus supplementing declining print ad revenues. With the print world taking a nosedive in advertising in 2009, it’s seductive to think that new technology will be the salvation of the (former) print media, bringing the money back while cutting down on overhead (like those pesky union drivers that deliver the papers). But is the e-reader technology really on the side of the news industry?

Josh Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University recently gave a talk at Mediabistro’s ebook Summit on this subject and came to an odd conclusion: e-readers will attract a mainstream audience the moment they become functional Web devices (like a large iPhone, or small laptop!), which will also happen to be the point at which these devices will stop making money for publishers. Not following? Here, we’ll help.

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