Back in the mid-90s, many newspaper companies laughed at the internet and considered it a phase that would pass, while others such as Dow Jones embraced the opportunities online offered and built one of the most profitable online news sites with the Wall Street Journal online. They have been using a pay wall since 1995 and the New York Times has decided to follow suit sixteen years later when their site begins to require payment in January. Newspaper revenue is at an all-time low and without a strong push towards providing strong digital content, they will most likely fail.
In Matthew Ingram’s article for http://www.gigaom.com, CEO of the Journal Register John Paton’s strong opinions on this issue are stressed. Paton said, “Newspapers need to be digital first in everything they do,” in his speech at the Transformation of News Summit in Cambridge, Mass. According to Paton, his company was virtually bankrupt last year and has turned it around to raise profit margins to 15% for this year.
Professional journalists have been trying to figure out the new business model since the internet became dominant and left print in its wake. Paton feels that digital is the only way to go. Everything in the world is becoming digital, so news providers need to pay attention to what its readers are interested in. There is also the issue of charging readers for online content. It is quite obvious that the average American would prefer to get their news for free, but that hasn’t been very profitable for many publications that have a full staff that gets paid. Huffington Post is one of the more successful online publications, yet it doesn’t pay the majority of its writers. Not to speak for all journalists, but I think that most would really like to get paid for their hard work.
The New York Times provides the most credible and reliable news available in print. This may be the reason their online site could prove to be successful. Millions of readers depend on the Times to tell them the most important stories and to tell the truth, more often than not. It will be difficult for other papers to gauge their own success based off the Times, but it may cause a chain reaction where most print publications install a pay wall for their online sites.
Paton’s advice could be the right model for print publications to follow for years to come due to the internet’s strong grasp on the public. People want their news faster and easier. The interactivity offered by digital content can’t be matched in a newspaper by far. The evidence against print is nearly insurmountable. More and more newspapers are going bankrupt while more and more successful news websites are being started.
With the success of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, hyperlocals, mashups and the blogosphere, the digital age is in full effect. There are so many creative ways to collect, create and provide news. Any publication that neglects the influence digital content has on the media will be left in the dust. In the highly competitive media world, it is essential to be a main stay as opposed to another piece of dust in the wind.