When the New York Times tried to have Apple pull the plug on the hit iPad news reader, Pulse, I noted that as newspapers like the New York Times attempt to 'save' their businesses, it would be wise of them to figure out how they can work with creative third parties. After all, individuals outside of these organizations may be able to do more for them in some areas than they can currently do for themselves.
But if emails between an online publisher who wanted to license content from Dow Jones is any indication, news organizations may be better at talking about getting paid for their content than they are at actually accepting money from businesses that are ready to pay them.
paidContent has the full set of emails, which I won't duplicate here, but here's a summary: Shafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCred, sends an email inquiring about a license to publish a feed of Dow Jones content on a private website, and is essentially dismissed by a "Business Development Manager" who doesn't at all seem interested in developing business.
While I'm not going to suggest that Dow Jones should have licensed its content to NewsCred right on the spot, Dow Jones' response does highlight part of what's wrong with news organizations today: on one hand they are spending a significant amount of time trying to figure out how to get people to pay for content, and on the other they really aren't seizing on all of the legitimate opportunities through which they could actually get paid.
The Dow Jones response is especially ironic given that paidContent recently conducted an interview with Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton and Editor-in-Chief Robert Thomson. The interview not only touched on paid content, which is a big part of what Dow Jones is pushing, but also the repurposing of content. On this, Thomson told paidContent:
You’re going to have multiple versions of papers, you’re going to have specialist content, which is put in a parcel for you because that’s your area of interest—professional interest or personal interest—but the good thing is, frankly, Les is overseeing a culture at the company which is very flexible. It understands that repurposing is a part of what we have to do and as journalists it’s understanding who the audience is, having created that content, repurposing into a parcel in a different language or a different area or speciality and creating something for Les’s team to sell.
This begs the question: if the Dow Jones is going to repurpose its own content across multiple owned properties, why shouldn't Dow Jones consider letting third parties who are willing to pay a hefty sum do the same on their properties? In this case, NewsCred is interested in repurposing the content on a private website that won't be accessible to search engines. Even if Dow Jones doesn't see this as being the type of deal it's inclined to have an interest in, a smart company would not reject the proposition outright; instead, it would at the very least throw out a big number and see if it gets lucky. After all, if such a license is structured in a thoughtful, strategic manner, it is unlikely tit would cannibalize the core business. Instead, even a few of these types of licensing deals could provide a nice little revenue stream.
Unfortunately, it seems like news organizations may not be any closer to developing sensible business models than they were years ago. There are plenty of opportunities for them to be paid for their content. It would help, however, if they allowed their business development teams to develop business, not turn it away.
Photo credit: Neubie via Flickr.