The Columbia Journalism Review released a policy report today titled “The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism.” Some tidbits from today’s coverage of the report:
From NY Times on advertising:
If you ever watch somebody reading a copy of Vanity Fair, they spend as much time looking at the ads as they spend looking at the content,” Mr. Grueskin said, “because the ads are actually useful for readers.” (Ads having value on their own, he added, is “something that we as journalists have a hard time getting our heads around.”)
From CJR’s report on paywalls:
“So, which approach is best, free or paid? Pay proponents often put it this way: High-quality journalism costs a great deal to produce, so users ought to pay to get it. Pay opponents have a counterargument: Paywalls cut sites off from “the conversation” online and will deprive them of the attention they need from blogs, aggregators and social media.
We prefer to frame it as a business issue—and in that respect, it’s possible that neither side has it exactly right. In fact, pay plans may have little immediate impact on sites that are just getting into the business. The reason is that most companies are likely to have only small streams of online circulation revenue, which could roughly match advertising declines from lower traffic. Digital subscriptions may pay off in the years to come, but only if media companies can persuade consumers using new platforms—like smartphones and tablets—to adopt a pay plan.
If you’re going to reinvent the business of journalism for the digital era, this is a really fruitful place to start — the idea that although the business and the journalism are always going to be linked, they don’t necessarily need to be linked through the slightly kludgy old-media mechanism of simple adjacency.
Read the full report here.