Remember the scene in Blazing Saddles once the sheriff installed a toll booth in the center of the prairie, and most of the bad guys lined through to horseback to pitch a dime in the turnstile as opposed to ride round the gate? Classic 1974 Mel Brooks; revisited with a pose of 2009 irony. After the U.C. Berkeley Media Technology Summit held at Google the other day, it seems that some strong voices have moved discussions away from paid content. ‘Sell News Online’ won’t pass the smell test for 95% of news sites because shhhh…. online news is free.
The turnstile gate is up: readers can proceed through it, around it, over it, and get their news however, whenever, wherever they desire. Individuals are in control, Newsonline advertisers have voted to invest their dollars elsewhere and media companies perhaps, might be starting to go over opportunities that scale. Nevertheless the question remains, will investigative journalism survive the slow, painful transition of the media industry?
Not-for-profit business models like ProPublica are cropping up to 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 weren’t represented. I did not see Associations from Restaurants, Car Companies, Auto Dealers, Convention Centers and certainly small businesses weren’t providing input.
It’s interesting that the bread and butter of the media industry, advertisers, remain not asked what they believe and how online news may play a role in the advertisers’ future. Perhaps now that paid content is on the back burner, (I is likely to make the broad assumption that advertisers weren’t 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 will provide data and perspective, if analyzed. If media firms had reached out and called for feedback as early as 2006 when advertisers began to leave newspapers, they may be presenting an alternative history today.
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