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The Inside Word is a weekly feature that looks at compelling industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at digital…

Steve Outing

The Inside Word is a weekly feature that looks at compelling industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at digital-media companies.

Blogger: Steve Outing

Position: Founder of the Digital Media Test Kitchen at the University of Colorado

  1. Joe: In such a short piece you couldn’t include everything we talked about, of course. But I would like to add to the part about user “pushback.” What I’ve seen is reaction on both sides. There’s the group that reacts badly, as you wrote above. And there’s also the group of newspaper website readers who *want* to donate money because they recognize a bad situation and want continued watchdog journalism. The trick for for-profit news organizations in asking for website users to donate money, I think, is in doing it in a way that doesn’t seem like begging. The (Kachingle) external donation network I would say is one way to accomplishes that. Other innovators are working on more models.

    But I’m also bullish on an approach you didn’t mention: voluntary premium memberships. This is using the newspaper’s brand power (assuming it’s still got it) to sell memberships that offer various types of premiums, for editorially related (e.g., tickets to newsmaker lectures or debates) and commercial offers (special discounts or free stuff from advertisers). See The Times’ (UK) “Times+” program as an example. http://www.timesplus.co.uk/

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