With all the talk about whether the content of newspapers is of a quality the public will be willing to pay for online, it took a search of our paper’s archives recently to remind me that … it is. It’s not necessarily the quality of the individual story (although that’s obviously there), but of the narrative – the archive – that presents an ongoing and valuable commodity.
A mistake of mainstream media has been to ignore and devalue that content.
So if there’s going to be a paywall, maybe it should be for archived content. Not just archived material that you can do a text search on, but a powerful database of related, interwoven “smart” content. At the moment that’s largely unavailable. Allow users to follow the background story, or stories, that give context to the current revision, whether that history is contained in text, image, audio or video content.
As such, it equally applies to any media, or content creator, but this particular post approaches it from the mindset of print.
I had reason to search NewsText, a database of newspaper archives, for the entire history of the Queensland Government’s lobbyist issue, where former government ministers were representing lobbying firms on development projects. During the search I saw clearly the linear progression and connectedness of these articles across months, even years, all presented chronologically. It’s there without tags or related story linking, just a regular text search. Where the authors were different, and in some cases even the publication, the full story still unfolded.
But that linear value is completely lost, both in the newspaper because it isn’t possible, and online when it isn’t utilised. In the newspaper it’s only possible to read each article as a standalone piece, without reference or even knowledge of the wealth of background to the story, or the ongoing work a publication or journalist has devoted to covering that story.
There is the capability to do it online but, in most cases, it’s not being done. People can currently pay for this archival content, with access to historical textual news searches through services like NewsText or Lexis Nexis, but the ability to do that should be provided online from the originating news source.
And why not monetise it?
It’s not like it’s a service offered now and, like academic articles, it could provide a story précis or the context in which the search terms are contained. Some kind of context would help the consumer decide if they want to pay for the entire article, or a sequence of related articles and/or other media content.
If it’s done it shouldn’t be prohibitive to pay for articles. Ease of access is the barrier to overcome, and anything over just a few cents per article would quickly become prohibitively expensive.
You only pay $1.69 AU ($0.99 US) for a song on iTunes, and the whole point of that purchase is to have a product you can use (listen to) again and again. Most people who purchase an article don’t intend to use it over and over again. It’s a one time, single use purchase – generally for reference only and a cheap price should reflect that.
It’s wrong that newspapers and other content creators didn’t start doing this much earlier, or adopt the best practices of somebody who has figured it out. It’s not just another “related articles” plugin, although it includes that, but a seriously robust system that makes the archive useful. Content on news media sites is archived online but, if it wasn’t for Google, it would be nigh on impossible to actually find it.
Everyone has failed at converting content to the web and leveraging the value of their archives. Not just mainstream media. Everybody.
In January I experimented with a little mobile journalism, or MoJo, on a small story. Using Qik on a Dopod mobile phone, I live streamed video from the scene of a unit fire on Brisbane’s south side.
This was by no means an experiment in mobile journalism that even basically covered how MoJo could be done, it was simply a spur of the moment decision to give it a go. These are my thoughts on the process.
The arrogance of mainstream media, QR codes a new business model?, and all the tools you’ll ever need
Image via Wikipedia
Deconstructing the “real journalism” argument
Terry Heaton takes a shot at the unending “woe, the internetz!” cries of mainstream media.
“we’d get a lot further in the reinvention of professional journalism if we could get away from the belief that its an entitlement, one that’s necessary for the survival of the species […]
“Who do we think we are? Surely our hubris has blinded us, for professional journalism never was God’s gift to culture […] We have done some good things, but our arrogance was our undoing. That arrogance is behind the notions that ‘real journalism’ can’t be practiced outside the paradigm of contemporary professional news.”
(tags: online mediaindustry journalism media)
Why media companies are hosed
“Wal-Mart is a media site in that it sells its reach to advertisers, a reach that vastly exceeds two of the top newspaper sites in the world. This is why I keep harping on everybody that the future for local media companies lies beyond their own walled garden websites, and those who refuse to hear that (like, everybody) are sprinting to the tar pits.”
And an interesting viewpoint in the comments, suggesting QR codes could be the way of the future for cut-sized newspapers, providing direct mobile links to the full content.
“Sooner or later, some newspaper people are going to figure out that the way to go is a 16- 24 page paper that mostly serves as a table of contents for info on the web.”
(tags: mediaindustry future mobile qrcodes)
Tools for News
A huge collection of “Tool kits” for everything you need for online content creation, whether you call yourself a digital journalist, online journalist, or you create content for family, friends or any other community you’re a part of.
Check it out and get creative.
(tags: digital howto newmedia tools reporting tutorial)
Originally from my auto-posting daily Delicious links, I have cut this back to just a few links I have added comment to and that I think particularly useful. I have also retitled the post. This is in preparation for a blog redesign, where I no longer want posts titled “links for YYYY-MM-DD”. A live stream of Delicious links will also always be available in a sidebar widget and/or stand-alone page.