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Paid Subscriber Content Model Tests Market

21 Jul 2009

In another attack on bloggers as third rate journalists The National Business Review, in what they describe as 'The Great New Journalism Adventure', has sent a letter via their email alert to subscribers outlining their appeal for paid subscriber content.


The National Business Review, published in New Zealand, will be offering readers a subscription rate of $149 for automatic access to all subscriber only content for a period of six months.


In the email, received by Publishing Edge, Barry Colman publisher of The National Business Review stated "I expect about 20 per cent of our web news to be Subscriber Only Content. The exact ratio will vary as we will be using the category for only the best news stories, scoops and commentary pieces that we post on any one day. Besides the serious issues of the moment the content will include large doses of satire and goings on uncovered by our nosey Private Bin reporters."


Colman continued to outline reasons behind this move.


"As you know, there has been endless discussion for a number of years about the crazy model adopted by newspapers in most parts of the free world in which they pay the enormous costs of running professional newsrooms only to give their content away free - while at the same time slashing newsroom numbers to save money as circulation and advertising revenues fall.


And to add to the madness it has been the aggregators that have profited the most from the supply of that free news copy. Worse still the model has spawned a huge band of amateur, untrained, unqualified bloggers who have swarmed over the internet pouring out columns of unsubstantiated "facts" and hysterical opinion.


Most of these "citizen journalists" don't have access to decision makers and are infamous for their biased and inaccurate reporting on almost any subject under the sun (while invariably criticising professional news coverage whose original material they depend on to base their diatribes).


It is only a matter of time before the model collapses. The alternative is newsrooms decimated to the point of processing public relations handouts or unedited government propaganda from their fully staffed team of spin doctors.


Overseas the Wall Street Journal and The Australian Financial Review have successfully instigated subscriber paid policies for premium content and legendary publisher Rupert Murdoch has promised the days of the internet's "free lunch" news service from his newspapers is about to end."


Reorts in relation to this email have returned some interesting feedback with the mUmBRELLA site providing some significant feedback with some agreeing, "He's right, most business blogs are simply uninformed opinion and couldn't exist without news gathering and editing by skilled journalists and editors." Whilst on the other side of the coin, "Good luck to them. I hope they can make that work but let's see a follow up article with an accurate number of paid subscribers, uniques and page impressions in 3 months compared to their current figures."


Paid content is on most online publishers radar but the model will be tested by many specialist blogs now emerging with increased sophistication of distribution.



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