Mark Potts seems to confuse the idea that believing paid content models are a bad idea with some sort of romanticism about journalism.
Never mind, that expecting people to pay for general news is, simply put: A bad idea.
Ironically, it’s the journalistic romantics who most often scream, “oh content is worth something! People should pay for it, damn it!”
It reminds me of the homeless man on the street corner asking passersby for spare change. He has no more leverage over their pocketbooks than the journalists whining about free content. They used to say, “You can’t get blood from a turnip.” You can’t pry open a pocketbook that is determined to stay closed, no matter how much you might wish otherwise.
Wishing has never made for good business plans.
Look, it’s a tough reality, but either we figure out how to make our online revenue through advertising or we’re screwed. Paid content is just not an alternative. Mr. Potts sites examples of seemingly successful paid content sites, but all prove how hard it is to make paid content work, because all are specialized verticals with little competition (possible exception, ESPN, and I question the level of their success). They are also sites that are national in scope.
There is no evidence that local online news drives the kind of broad based passion needed to convince substantial numbers of people to subscribe it.
Sure, people subscribe to the print edition in substantial numbers, but as we’ve discussed before, they’re really only paying for delivery, not the content. Users do pay for delivery online, just not to the newspaper company. They pay it their broadband provider.
Like Mr. Potts, journalism long ago lost it’s romantic grip on my soul. To me, this is a simple business calculation.
Previously: Reasons why paid content is a bad idea