Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Online News: Searching for News and Dollars.

The Pew Research Center’s “Project for Excellence in Journalism” just released a survey as to what condition the online news condition is in. (Thanks Kenny)

You can read the entire report here:

It wasn’t hard to find the bottom line. Revenue, or lack of it. Pew found that while there is a rapid growth in people going to the Internet for news and information, they’re not quite as anxious to pay for it. According to the study, 79% of those surveyed rarely click on online ads.

People still listen to radio, and watch TV for news, but those outlets are also facing revenue challenges with networks to local stations losing revenue, cutting staff and doing more with less.

The demise of the traditional newspaper is well-documented. Chances are you don’t even have a local paper where you live.

So why are the same people who willingly paid for a newspaper subscription, so hesitant to support the online sites they’re going to?
But as writer Derek Thompson reports in Atlantic Online, actually we do. Thompson points out people pay an average of $41 each month for Internet access at home. So yes, we are paying. But what part, if any of that revenue stream, is reaching the content producers you pay for access to through that monthly bill?
More and more papers like the Wall Street Journal now charge for “Premium” content. So you get some news free, but not all of it. Cloth seats vs. Leather.
Another model for some online editions of papers is getting “X” amount of story clicks each month. Go beyond that and you’re charged moving forward.
What has sustained any news organization, whether radio, television or print, has been paid advertising. But the online advertising model is a different animal and one marketers and apparently consumers are still trying to figure out.
The Pew Study also points out that a little more than half of us rely on about 2-5 sites for our routine news and information “fix.” That’s certainly the case for me.
Pew says a total of 199 websites get at least half-a-million visits per month. You can ask someone for instance what’s their favorite news website and they might say CNN or FOX. But these websites have multiple versions that deal with everything from news to sports and business.
Just one from my point of view. It’s always has, and always will be about revenue or as Pew reports, the lack thereof. Click on the story, but not on the ad.
We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. That goes for online news too. Now we just have to figure out how to do it. Advertisers and consumers.
John W. Scherer
John is CEO and Founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Follow John Scherer on Twitter: @VidProf