Journalism In The Age of the Internet
Readers of this blog know that the media and the changes that the internet is forcing upon journalism is a trend that I’m continuing to watch. Rupert Murdoch of News Corp, despite being up there in years, is one of the main forces driving some of these changes. He is a fascinating force in the industry.
In a recent post, Will Search Engines Pay For Content [November 23, 2009], I talked about how Murdoch is contemplating banning his content from Google in order to prevent “free access” to the news that his companies provide. Murdoch recently spoke at an event and called the actions of news aggregator websites “theft”.
It seems that Murdochs idea moving forward is that people will actually pay for quality content. Many disagree and I’m not exactly sure where I stand on this, but I do think that Murdoch at least has a plan for moving forward with regards to high quality journalism and profitability. As major news organizations continue to crumble and lose money, they should maybe consider some of the ideas, if not the thought process of Murdoch.
In another related story, the chief of Dow Jones (owned by News Corp) recently discussed the idea of “free” content and basically said that free doesn’t work. He criticizes the “build it and they will come” strategy when it comes to content and advertisers. The article cites YouTube as an example with massive traffic and an inability to profit from such traffic.
As someone who is working towards building income from the internet and with search engines such as Google playing a major part in my plan, I’m very fascinated to watch this drama unfold. There could potentially be a major positioning battle between large media companies like News Corp and search engines such as Google. With the way the internet works currently, I’d have to bet on Google since they tend to hold the keys to a big part of the internet; however, things never stay the same, and some day in the future, Google’s dominance will be compromised. What it will look like is anybody’s guess at this point.
The merging of quality, investigative journalism and the internet is a big unknown at this point. A large team of international journalists comes with high costs… costs that typically prevent profitability when web advertising is the only source of revenue. I tend to think that the model that will work in the future is different than simply extending the current model and adding a fee for online content. The cost side of the equation will have to be modified. How quality journalism can be maintained while slashing the costs of operating an army of reporters will have to be figured out by somebody smarter than me.
Anybody have any information on profitability of internet-only news organizations such as Huffington Post and Politico? I’d be curious to see if and to what degree they are profitable.