For journalists, the present day may seem like both the best of times and the worst of times.
Traditional news organizations, disrupted by the internet, are
struggling, making it harder to turn journalism into profit.
But at the
same time, change brought about by the internet is creating exciting new
opportunities for journalism.
Here's a question most publishers would love to have an answer to: what's the secret to building a successful pay wall?
Although one might expect major publishers like the New York Times to eventually provide the answer, newspapers in Slovakia may have beat their Western counterparts to the task.
The iPad is a source of hope for many traditional publishers. Which explains why publishing moguls like Rupert Murdoch are investing lots of time and money into the tablet device.
But not all iPad strategies are created equal, and one of Murdoch's newspapers, the New York Post, may have the dubious distinction of executing the dumbest iPad strategy yet.
That strategy: in an effort to get readers to pony up for the newspaper's $6.99/month app, block the Safari browser on the iPad from accessing content on the nypost.com website, content that's freely available via any other browser.
For traditional publishers, the Apple has been a blessing and a curse. On one hand, its iOS devices, including the iPad, have created hope and inspired thought about the future of publishing. On the other hand, it's clear that it is no savior.
It's not into charity either. Case in point: the 30% cut Apple demands from subscriptions sold in iOS apps. Begrudgingly, many publishers have agreed to this fee. But not all.
Journalism or not? Ethical or unethical? WikiLeaks, the infamous internet-based organization that releases sensitive and often-classified material that is leaked to it, is perhaps one of the most controversial organizations in the world today.
But despite the controversy surrounding WikiLeaks, it appears that at least one major newspaper is envious enough of what it's doing to start its own online service designed to allow 'whistleblowers' to share their wares.
Newspapers need help anywhere they can get it, and the Audit Bureau of Circulations is trying to help. Recently, it updated the rules it uses to calculate newspaper circulation.
One of the changes: free copies given to local schools and newspaper employees are now counted.
That should help, right? Apparently, it's not that easy. Despite the Audit Bureau of Circulations' good intentions, newspaper circulation in the U.S. continues to decline.
Newspapers face numerous challenges in the digital age. From online
business models to organizational structure, many newspapers are
struggling to find their way in the world.
And then there are the 'smaller' challenges that are sometimes just as thorny. One of these: the importance of journalist objectivity.
Traditional publishers have known better days. The business models of
the past are failing, and new ones that can take their place are, for
many publishers, elusive.
But a few, like The Financial Times, are not just surviving, they're
thriving. And increasingly, they're extending their success into new
channels and onto new platforms.
One of the most storied news dailies, The New York Times, has been
talking about a pay wall for well over a year. Like most newspapers,
times are tough, and to survive and thrive, new sources of revenue must
be found. For obvious reasons, subscriptions are one of the most appealing potential revenue sources.
Yesterday, The New York Times finally pulled the trigger and announced that it
will be launching a paid subscription model later this month.
Many print publishers hoped that the iPad would do more for them than it has done thus far, but that doesn't mean that the iPad, and tablet computing in general, doesn't have potential.
The challenge: figuring out a strategy that works. Trying to charge more for your newspaper on the iPad than it costs in print doesn't seem all that sensible, and creating tablet-only dailies doesn't exactly come off as a smart investment given the economics of the publishing business today.
However, Condé Nast might have stumbled upon a concept that might be a viable
part of a larger strategy: take old, existing content, repurpose it and
sell it as a new product.