Have We Ever Paid for Content?

Paula Graham says the much-discussed "pay for content" online news model may be fundamentally flawed in that newspapers and magazines never really charged for their content, even in print. Subscriptions and newsstand prices have been traditionally used to pay for the medium, and the means of distribution, and not for the content of the articles.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more?

One could argue, however, that via iTunes, Apple has successfully transitioned music from consumers paying for medium to consumers paying for content. Could the same happen for online news and online books? Graham says that iTunes is actually more of a "tollbooth."

Discovered via New Business Models for News and @freddieoconnell.

E&P: Journos Losing Jobs at Three Times Rate of Average Workers

Journos Losing Jobs at Three Times Rate of Average WorkersNews media, including newspapers, broadcast and digital, have shed 35,885 jobs since Sept. 15, 2008, according to a study by Unity: Journalists of Color. The great majority of jobs lost — 24,511 — were in newspaper and other print journalism, Unity said.

[Editor and Publisher Breaking News]

Newspaper ad revenue expected to be down about 25% in 3Q

Newspaper ad revenue expected to be down about 25% in 3QNew York Times
Analysts predict that the decline will be smaller in the fourth quarter. "If the rate of decline in advertising slows, it will largely be because 2008 grew steadily worse as the year wore on and the recession deepened, making year-to-year comparisons less stark," writes Richard Perez-Pena.
[Poynter Romenesko]

Google CEO Weights in on the Online Paid Content Debate

He also utters one of the two latest media business model buzzwords, the other being "local."

Google CEO: Publishers will have a hard time charging for general newsReuters
There’s too much free content online, says Eric Schmidt. "My guess is for niche and specialist markets … it will be possible to [charge], but I think it is unlikely that you will be able to do it for all news."
[Poynter Romenesko]

Exactly Who Fits the Definition of ‘Journalist?’

Shield law: House and Senate differ on who’s a journalist

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on a federal shield law today that would protect journalists from subpoenas for their confidential sources — that is, if legislators can agree on who counts as a journalist.

A version of the shield law already passed by the House (H.R. 985) casts the issue largely in financial terms (emphasis added):

The term “covered person” means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.

That definition would exclude amateurs of any sort, whether student reporters or bloggers with a day job, not to mention to anyone in the grey area of citizen journalism. [Nieman Journalism Lab]

‘Tampa Tribune’ Editor Thinks Charging for Online News is ‘Delusional’

From Romenesko:

Tampa Tribune editor Janet Coats believes there needs to be a more aggressive approach to getting online ad revenue. "We have spent 15 years in this industry getting newsrooms to change. By God, they have changed. How much have things changed on the ad side?"


AdAge: Newspaper Culture Could Have Survived Mistakes If Technology Hadn’t Changed

Advertising Age’s David Klein says the newspaper isn’t going away, but its future isn’t exactly the same, either.

Of course newspapers will continue to advance, improve, innovate and grow. But nothing in the foreseeable future (other than the internet being dismantled) is going to enable papers to return to their old standard of living.