Value of Journalism

Will newspapers survive? I think the physical form will survive for another 10 years at least at much lower valuation then eventually break into nich market fragments. The profession of journalism will, however, not only continue on but become more respected than before.

This is why I think so. When we are short of something we consume, like water in the desert, we put value in availability. As we approach ubiquitous availability of the same, we shift value to quality.

In a sea filled with unverified and biased news and information, we will rediscover the value of journalism. We will see memes as what they really are, mental viruses, and know the danger of careless consumption. As we have become more health conscious, we will also become more mental health conscious.

We’ll see products of journalism like bottled water, avoid reading/eating things off the ground, and see eaters of biased or mutated news as inbred rednecks. Those who can afford to pay, that is.

As usual, I am exaggerating. Not quite hyperbole but enough force to kickstart pointless thinking.

Micropayments and News

Is micropayment what the ailing news industry needs? Will it save New York Times? Like Clay Shirky, I have my doubts about micropayments, particularly from usability perspective. Micropayment UI can get as bad as Vista UAC, endless parade of buy this and buy that.

What I think the news industry should do is follow the example of cable TV industry. Bundle contents by type into channels then charge per channel or channel combo deals like 10 free news channel + choice of 10 premium news channels + 100 article of choice from other channels for $5 per month. For $10, 30 premium plus 500 articles of choice. To add an extra channel for a month, an extra $1.

Regardless of details, the core idea is to transition to finer-grained subscription model, selling sections instead of the whole newspaper, bothering the user only once per month and when the fuel tank (a-la-carte article budget) gets empty to ask whether refill for a fee or add a channel.