Monthly Archives: August 2010

It’s not about selling news, it’s about keeping customers


The new-look, paid-for Times website

The paywall debate has focused on how consumers might consume the news industry’s end product: news. “Will readers pay for news online?” “Will the industry survive this change?” “Won’t people just get it for free someplace else?”

These are the news industry’s Frequently Asked Questions right now. Even people that don’t believe in Rupert Murd och‘s pile-’em-high subscription strategy – free content activist Guardian News & Media to name one – want to know whether TheTimes.co.uk will be a success.

But paywalls do not sprout overnight, they need real planning. Just look at my old colleague Martin Stabe’s presentation at SIPA on the nuts and bolts of implementing subscriptions at Emap’s Retail Week magazine. So here are some other questions it might be worth asking.
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After the news has gone: life without your local newspaper

(c) Patrick Smith 2010

What happens when your local newspaper leaves town? The people of Ashton-Under-Lyne in Greater Manchester found out 18 months ago when the Tameside Advertiser office (right) shut and its journalists were either sacked or moved seven miles west to Manchester city centre, home of the paper’s parent company MEN Media, now part of Trinity Mirror’s regional empire. Continue reading

Demand Media: The $114 million content machine that has nothing to do with news

Image representing Demand Media as depicted in...
Image via CrunchBase

I’ve been saying for a long while that Demand Media‘s digital content model has potential to make it big. And now it’s filing for an IPO, claiming  the company has stock worth up to $125 million.

It’s clear that Demand’s growth is by far outstripping even its own predictions and the time is now to float the stock and end the start-up phase. paidContent and AllThingD have tonnes of coverage on this and are both worth following closely.

So how much money does this “content farm” make?

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Link to the past: why do some news sites STILL not link out in 2010?

Journalists now invariably have to take part in web journalism and an increasing number of them only write for the web.

But despite that, not all of them use hyperlinks - one of the main things that elevate digital journalism above and beyond its print counterpart by adding relevance, context, facts, proof and sometimes wit to an otherwise dry and mundane story or sentence.

I would challenge any non-digital platform to offer readers the amount of information that sites like paidContent (my former employer) crams into its “the story in links” posts, usually collated after the sale of a big company, like this one following Bebo’s recent sale for a pitiful sum.

Linking – sometimes referred to as “in-line linking” – has a fundamental role: it conveys information faster and more efficiently than writing it all out again from the original source. The ethos of sites like paidContent is: why waste time re-writing a press release when you can link to it and add value?

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