Stalemate, again. Hands up if you pay for news?
In the Independent, Mike Masnick of Techdirt says: “If your business is focused on making life more difficult for a competitor, rather than adding more value to users, you’re doing the wrong thing.”
That really makes sense to me. “Adding more value” means collaboration, making life easier, and using technology to lower costs (or just be free).
Also, Google is a search engine. Search is the key word here. During a social media round-table debate TTG held in August, Immediate Future’s Niall O’Malley summed it up best when he said everything Google creates is just interference, search is what it really does.
Google is acting as the gateway to all forms of content, and it probably doesn’t care which of its applications we use to get it. Gmail, Wave, Youtube – even that old fashioned website google.co.uk will do. Its news reader is just one aspect. It will still find the “news” – cached, on other websites, on aggregator blogs, the BBC, news agencies and so on. (Analysis, that’s a different story).
With these apps that Google’s built in its spare time, it’s done more than enough damage to its competitors and one way or another, we’ll all be using Google to access news. And yes, it will take all of the advertising money from associated links thank you very much.
As the successful publication websites carry on developing interaction, collaboration and crowd-sourcing, commenting still remains a key factor, and allows the egos of writers to thrive (just look at the success of the Guardian).
But you have to write differently for the web. People want to be outraged, spurred on to comment, and have their say, amused… writers must give them what they want.
Meanwhile, in France, journalists at Le Monde are preparing a strike over increased workloads for the web – for the bilingual followers of this blog, read what’s happening here. Read the comments – funny how there’s a lot of love for the Guardian there.
So lets adapt, and of course at the same time look for new revenue models. Sophisticated interactive campaigns, microsites, buzz marketing… charging for news, as a commodity, is not going to work. The cracks in the paywall have just got bigger.
And just out of interest, if you’ve got this far reading this post, do you subscribe (as in pay) to any news websites? Would be interested to hear your thoughts…