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Archive for August 12th, 2009

“Silly Season” Summer Roundup: Squeezing the Value From Online Content

Posted by chanders on August 12, 2009

ACAP, hNews, CircLabs, the Information Valet, Attributor … this summer, a number of initiatives designed to squeeze one last  drop of value from the well-juiced orange of news have been breathlessly announced. If you’re like me, most of these plans eventually start to blur together into one big “they want to charge for content” miasma. But, they’re actually different enough that I think it would be valuable to break them all down into a few general categories. It seems clear that, by the winter of 2010, many if not most online news products will have launched a variety of payment initiatives, so it might not be a bad idea to get an idea of what could be coming down the road.

I want to be clear: this is a limited overview of some of the ways people are talking about funding journalism in the online era. I don’t get into some of the more forward-looking projects, like Spot.us or Kaiser Health News. I’m not even getting into what I think is the only real question about journalism worth asking: what are news organizations going to add to what they already do in order to generate new revenue? The title of this post sums up, I think, the gist plans outlined here: squeezing value from traditional online content.

Finally, you’ll notice that I don’t discuss the Steven Brill venture “Journalism Online.” To be honest, while Journalism Online was first out of the “create value by charging” box, I have had trouble figuring out exactly what it is they’re planning to do. At best, they want to do a little but of everything I outline here, but it seems like, at least for now, they are primarily a consortium empowered by struggling newspapers to “figure it out,” rather than an entity possessing any actual plan.

I divide the numerous “value from content” plans into four general categories: (a) the paywall, (b) tracking users for ads (c) tracking content for extraction (d) reinstate online scarcity via legal doctrine.

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