If Only the Web Dispensed Free Coffee, Too.

September 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm 2 comments

If “news” happens, and no one is there to Tweet it, can I still get it for free?

Consumers everywhere are counting on a ‘Yes’ answer to that ridiculous question. The answer, of course, is Yes. And No. “News” happens constantly around the world. It’s out there like so many coffee beans sprouting on trees throughout the globe’s warmer climes. And like these beans, news needs processing and packaging before delivery. Unlike finished coffee product – the retail price of which has shot up exponentially in 10 years – consumers believe they can continue to get nicely packaged news for free. 

Newspaper circulation is dropping and has been for years. While many factors contribute to this decline, it’s mainly a consequence of increasing numbers of readers enjoying “free” news sources. Saying online news sources are free is a bit like saying “it costs money to ride the bus, but if I drive my own car, it’s free.”

Today, of course, most people do happily get their news online at seemingly no cost. If you search a topic through Google or Yahoo News, or subscribe to a news feed, your computer screen fills with relevant stories from dozens of sources. But look closely at where this news originates. It might be CNN, ABC News, the New York Times, or even your local community newspaper.

For many years now, these providers have happily processed and packaged the news for you, and delivered it for free through their dot coms, dot orgs, and dot nets. And once in a while, my local coffee shop will give me a free sample of a new blend or a blueberry scone. They do so – news providers and coffee pushers – to encourage revenue-generating traffic. If, tomorrow for example, ever coffee shop began pouring free Venti drips, Starbucks would likely follow suit. And coffee, like news, would be free. But unless you and I began buying dozens of bagel sandwiches and chocolate-dipped biscotti, the free-flowing java could not last long. 

Well, Rupert Murdoch is tired of giving away the news. He and 58 percent of publishers feel the same way, and are now considering paid-content formats for their products, according a recent study by the American Press Institute, and reported on here by the blog Journalistic.

Blogger Jeremy Porter, clearly dreaming about free coffee, says, “I hate paying for online news content.” But I bet he’d like to get paid for blogging, and perhaps he does. He certainly provides interesting insight and analysis in the world of journalism, and I value his work. Similarly, I find great value in a variety of news sources I peruse daily. Some I even pay to read.

I know that if all my news sources switch to a pay-to-read format, my news world will contract drastically. That would be a shame. But if as many can’t afford to pay reporters or web designers, then my news world will shrink anyway. If we can pay $2 for a cup of coffee every day, we can certainly find a way to pay for the content we value.


Entry filed under: Communications, journalism, Social Media, Writing.

Persuade with Information and Emotion, no matter what you sell Newspapers WILL live, SHOULD live. Online Content can’t beat it, yet.

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. JimmyBean  |  October 1, 2009 at 5:46 am

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Great site…keep up the good work. 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  • 2. REIT  |  October 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!! 🙂


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