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In an age where the media industry is floundering, many newspapers are exploring new strategies to generate profit.
One of the most successful solutions is the digital subscription plan. Paywalls, which have been adopted by over 150 daily newspapers in the US including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and recently, The Chicago Tribune, charge readers a subscription fee in order to gain access to the content. Theoretically, the paywalls maintain both quality journalism and profitability.
On July 11, the e-commerce digital news platform Press+, released a study of 4 newspapers with digital paywalls. The study concluded that over time, the site with the most daily stories sold 10 times as many monthly subscriptions as the site with only 50 stories a day.
The Press+ findings shed some light on how publishers can maximize profits but also introduce new complications. While publishers may be inspired to produce “better, more intense coverage” of their communities, it is more likely that they’ll get swept up in the “hamster wheel” mentality. The “volume without thought…copy produced to meet arbitrary productivity metrics” is one of the many reasons for hyperlocal failures. It is also the fuel behind disillusioned news consumers canceled subscriptions and general disappointment in the media of today.
Some blame technology for the devolution of print media. Technology has changed the way we think, fostered instant gratification, and shortened attention spans. Now more articles are needed to intrigue and satiate a reader.
While traditionalists and luddites bash the Internet for its hand in “ruining the news”, the reality is that technology is now keeping journalism afloat. Tech platforms for content curation provide solutions, not only for publishers in need of volumes of high quality journalism, but also for the generation of readers suffering from content-ADD.
With curated content, newspapers with smaller budgets can focus on producing high-quality journalism, albeit, in smaller volumes, and supplement that content with vetted, third-party stories, images, and videos.
The times are changing in the realm of digital media. The key to success is embracing innovation to reinvent the business model for news.