Sunday, 1 March 2009

New business models for newspapers

These are tough times for traditional news institutions. The world around them, technologically speaking, is changing at a frantic pace. The Web 2.0 read-write paradigm means consumers appear to want hands-on interactivity. And they want it for free.

The roll call of newspapers shutting down continues to rise, particularly in the USA. Does all of this spell gloom and doom for the journalists, editors, photographers and others involved in the craft of societal storytelling? Perhaps not. The signs are that alternative models will arise, and opportunities, hitherto unseen, will come sharply into focus. 

Here are two contrasting yet in some ways complementary views of where the news industry is and where it might end up.

Michael Rosenblum, the godfather of videojournalism, sees the move to visual communication in a multi-platform environment as one of the drivers for change. Content must cease to be static and evolve into a multi-dimensional offering.

Nicholas Carr offers a detailed review of how eventually we may end up making micro-payments for news-oriented content, however unpalatable that might seem now.

The bottom line for me is that how things were can't be the way that things will be. I look at my students, some of them as young as 11, turning out documentaries, making interactive PDF content for online delivery, recording podcasts, and see a paradigm shift in user expectations. It might be wrong to assume that future consumers will want to be active participants on a regular basis. It might be correct to suppose they will be looking for multimodal models of content delivery. 

The successful providers of advertising and sponsorship platforms will be those that understand this future reality and prepare for it now.