Krishna Bharat changed the way people look for stories online when he created Google News. But Google News was free, so people could adapt quickly. What about paid online-content?
In an interview with MJD’s parent company, Mediabistro, Bharat explains how news organizations should sell the idea of paid content to consumers, and he really makes it sound very simple.
“If it is high-quality content, and the billing is natural, I think they will pay. The issue is how do you make the value proposition to them, [by offering] something for which there is no obvious substitute. You’re not going to pay for one article that is just like any other article that covers the death of Michael Jackson. The brand, the quality of the journalism, the depth of insight, the look-and-feel, the experience, the infographics — all of that comes into play. Our challenge isn’t trying to introduce the concept of payment to consumers. They understand that. It’s to explain to them why this is different from everything else and worth paying for.”
As online news works now, the more content the better. Publishers want more stories while editors have smaller staffs, so similar content is rushed out in order to satisfy the need for speed and quantity. But that’s the beauty of Bharat’s explanation. If readers are actually paying for content, then it encourages creative, well thought out features and stories.
Suddenly, the thought becomes what will readers pay for, not what will readers simply click through. And that could change the way the editorial process works.
The only issue is, will readers actually pay for that new, different original content, as Bharat believes they will? Lets hope he’s correct on that one.