April 18, 2014

What are words worth?

benjaminsWhat are words worth? This is the question I found myself pondering over the course of the last few days. We have had our fair share of media-based discussions here at WFNY, most recently within the podcast with Brian Spaeth where he and Craig discussed a bare-bones cure for what ails The Plain Dealer. But just as a good portion of print-based media finds itself in self-made quicksand, it has become even more apparent that this is far from a “print” issue as much as it is one for all of journalism.

For those who have not been following, Nate Thayer has been the protagonist of a recent debate. Thayer is a highly-decorated freelance journalist who has made his name over the course of 25 years. He has won, among other accolades, a World Press Award, a Francis Frost Wood Award and a Peabody. He has won the SAIS-Novartis “Award for Excellence in International Reporting.” He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Earlier this week, Thayer published a correspondence between he and the global editor from The Atlantic wherein said editor was interested in running some of the author’s work. Their compensation for what was looking to be roughly 1,200 words: nothing.

In Thayer’s response, he said “I appreciate your interest, but, while I respect the Atlantic, and have several friends who write for it, I have bills to pay and cannot expect to do so by giving my work away for free to a for profit company so they can make money off of my efforts. 1200 words by the end of the week would be fine, and I can assure you it would be well received, but not for free. Frankly, I will refrain from being insulted and am perplexed how one can expect to try to retain quality professional services without compensating for them. Let me know if you have perhaps misspoken.”

The “insulted” part rang loud. Here is The Atlantic, a very well-respected and revenue-generating venture, offering a Pulitzer Prize nominee what boils down to “page views” as compensation for his work. Over my years of writing in various capacities, I have been offered similar arrangements — some I have taken as I felt that the time working with renowned editors would be worth the lack of financial compensation; others I have politely (and sometimes not-so politely) turned down as there is a value proposition of “worth” involved with any type of labor. But even I know that I do not hold a candle to Thayer, especially given his knowledge of global politics and socioeconomic.

Not only is The Atlantic one of the few outlets to have conquered the ever-changing landscape and be compensated for their hard work and willingness to take risks when the rest of the world was standing still, they have apparently built themselves up to a place where they can fish for Pulitzer-worthy dinner without paying for a license. Naturally, this left my mind spinning. And where do you go when you want to gauge whether or not your feelings are outliers? Twitter, of course.

The Atlantic is a globally focused site (and magazine) that covers politics, entertainment, arts, technology and business. To compare them to a channel that distributes sports, let alone a níche like Cleveland sports, may be a fruitless exercise. But I felt that this was more of a supply-demand discussion surrounding the on-line marketplace than it was a this-versus-that debate. If an organization is going to pay for freelance work, it has to assume margins on their returns. What they receive in revenue has to outweigh what they paid for the content – Business 101, return on investments. Alas, I asked my followers — who, if anyone, would you pay to read within the Cleveland sports-writing landscape?

The results were eye-opening. The majority of the responses were rooted in absence. While some of this absence was predicated upon entitlement and an unwillingness to pay for things, the responses were indicative of something else: a deficiency of worthy material. Of all of the scribes to write about Cleveland sports — there are, by my count five newspapers as well as two radio stations who publish written content and a handful of established blogs — only The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto and Indians.com’s Jordan Bastian consistently received votes. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince each received several “if he was still writing about Cleveland” nominations, but that is the end of the short list. I found this — a columnist, a baseball beat reporter and a former basketball beat reporter — incredibly interesting given that Cleveland often prides itself on being a “Browns town.”

There are countless web destinations that are behind a pay-wall. The New York Times rolled out a pay-to-read service a few years back — under much scrutiny — are are now prospering because of it. Same can be said for The New Yorker. The Boston Globe has introduced something similar, one that continues to be modified as issues/opportunities present themselves. ESPN has the ever-popular Insider on their web site. Sports Illustrated embargoes many of their print features so that subscribers can read them first. Andrew Sullivan made headlines this year when he decided to skirt load-draining advertisements on his website in favor of a more user-friendly, community-focused metered pay-wall. As much has been made of The Plain Dealer struggling financially, it would be safe to assume that a full-on pay-wall is one of the last things they have honestly considered implementing.

For disclosure: I’m not opposed to paying for content. I subscribe to Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, GQ, and Sports Illustrated. I have a subscription to Sirius-XM, ESPN Insider, and countless premium tiers on DirecTV. To me, it is not a matter of cost; it’s a function of worth. Howard Stern is worth my hard-earned money. As is Wright Thompson and Chris Jones and Gary Smith and Scott Raab and Tom Junod and Kevin Van Valkenburg and SL Price and… The list goes on. But for all of the solid (and often amazingly researched and composed) content that graces the web every day, the vast majority of readers — at least those who spoke up on Twitter — claim they would not be willing to pay more than their time spent on absorbing the words. How many people would have read Zack Meisel’s amazingly heartwarming story on Shelley Duncan and his family had it been behind a pay-wall? How much would a third-party have paid to publish it if it were a freelance piece?

Elasticity is an economic term that quantifies how much the demand for an item changes when price is altered. Due to the vast array of compliments — blogs, alternative outlets — many were of the “I’ll just go somewhere else” mold. But when I rephrased the question, making readers assume that all content had to be paid for, the results were not much different.

We here at WFNY are always looking to provide readers with “better.” Better stories, better writing, better insight … better web design, better load times … an all-around better experience. We understand that there is a cost, but given that this site has always been about the community, we understand. We write long form pieces knowing that they will get a fraction of the traffic and conversation that a news item on the NFL Draft will obtain. But we still put in the work. This same endeavor and ideal cannot always be shared by those who have writers contracted and have overhead fixed costs — office space, for instance. In the podcast with Craig which I referenced above, Brian Spaeth stated that the biggest value lies in investigative, narrative journalism. Stories that one would not be able to get anywhere else. Not box scores, not commodity news items like injury reports and starting lineups. ESPN has gone as far to embrace long form journalism and promote across multiple platforms. They see the value in storytelling — Wright Thompson’s profile on Michael Jordan was clicked on (as of last week) 2.5 million times, so it is evident that the demand is indeed there.

Sports Illustrated and Esquire and other national magazines have never veered from this focus and continue to employ some of the best writers putting pen to paper today. USA Today has rolled out Sports on Earth. Grantland is already turning a profit. The guys at The Classical continue to produce must-read material. Even Deadspin has made a turn from repackaged content to long form, investigative work. The Manti Te’o story continues to be the biggest sports story of the year; one of the authors is an undergraduate senior.

It may be a chicken-egg debate. Can these distribution channels afford to pay the best in the business to write because people will pay to read them? Or will people pay to read them because they are in fact the best in the business? Scroll through a Cleveland sports fans Twitter timeline on any given day and there are bound to be countless complaints about local media, coverage and quality. How can a local newspaper or website compete on this level? Demand more from writers? Litter a piece with advertisements and leverage page views and sell this as compensation?

I do not know what the answer is on a more níche, regional scale. I do know that Thompson’s piece was able to flourish not only because it was one of the best profiles written and happens to be about a captivating individual, but it was also promoted across multiple platforms — web, print, radio and television were all a part of the distribution plan, and it worked magnificently. I do know that Thayer’s issue with The Atlantic is far from a one-off; he was merely one of the few who were willing to put a well-compensated media company on blast. I do know that one of the responses I received several years ago when I had turned down writing for pennies was “we can just get some college kid to do it for free.” – a shear testament that this operation was in fact not about the readers as well as intellectual honesty as it was bright colors and page views.

And I do know that until someone finds an answer to this overriding problem — until companies can figure out a way to maximize returns to a point where they can afford to compensate, and quality reaches a point where end consumers are willing to pay with more than just eyeing advertisements – writing and the inherent quality of such (time spent, calls made, interviews given, multi-layer editing prior to publishing) will continue to fall by the wayside. Journalism will become increasingly more top-heavy as the herd chases after the same, depleting dollar. JA Adande will be forced to make a bigger name for himself as a talking head on Around the Horn than for his always top-flight columns. Pulitzer Prize nominees will be treated like they are a dime a dozen.

As the web grows and ease of publication continues to increase, there tends to be a race to the bottom. Who can get items up the fastest, only to be diluted by the others who can do the same with a log-in and click of a publish button. Those who can utilize their access, their knowledge and their writing ability should be compensated appropriately. But this compensation has to come from somewhere — these companies are, after all, a business.

It’s supply and demand. Until we all, as readers, demand more and demand better — but are also willing to pay for it when it is there – I fear we’re all in this sinking ship together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/adam.gercak Adam Gercak

    I would say the same situation applies to Photographers. In the past a photographer could get $500-$1000 for a job shooting a wedding. Now with digital technology people aren’t paying what they used to and if they do, they are expecting a long day, a bunch of pictures on a CD, and photobooks, and god knows what else. Right now there are too many photographers willing to give it away for free. I have a few passion projects I commit to for free, because they are passion projects, but if you are hiring me, I expect to get paid.

  • mgbode

    First and foremost, I appreciate the thoughts presented and the time put into this article and the others on WFNY through the years.

    However, sites like WFNY are exactly the problem when it comes to places like the PD paying freelance writers. The internet has provided an outlet for many differing voices on different subjects and it is a true free market. Not necessarily in the sense of $$$ but in the sense of content. WFNY was formed because several of these nonpaid freelance writers appreciated each others work and joined to become an epicenter for Cleveland sports.

    So, the question becomes, if the PD made you pay for Pluto’s insightful work, then would it be worth it when you can get the same information from multiple viewpoints for free elsewhere?

    This issue is also why ESPN has the ability to snatch up most sport reporters that it wants. It’s Insider portion of the website is cheap enough (and includes the ESPN-Magazine – basically a throw-in) that most people are willing to at least consider it. However, they have such a vast-reaching grip that ESPN is still turn profits on it by pure volume. This volume is consumed by then continuing to snatch up the writers who generate the most volume on their own. Again, free market economics working here.

  • MrCleaveland

    Nice article, Scott. It didn’t solve anything, but then it couldn’t, could it?

    But I will take you up on your offer to “demand better.” Your spelling is atrocious. It’s unprofessional, and after a while it’s distracting.

  • Toddyus

    I guess you get what you pay for…

  • carol

    Great read Scott.

  • http://twitter.com/tompestak Thomas Pestak

    I paid for insider for the last 4-5 years because of John Hollinger alone. I’ve actually never read ESPN The Magazine. They collected dust until I went to a web-delivered version and I’m pretty sure my spam folder gobbles it up. He’s gone – my insider subscription will follow. It’s not so much that there is no worthy Hollinger replacement, (I really like Neil Paine and they’ve kinda snagged him) but I can only handle so many “LeBron is the greatest person whose last name begins with J-a” to jointly file a tax return before the all-star break” articles. We GET IT.

    Now if Windhorst was insider I might reconsider – but he doesn’t get to write on daily basis anymore.

    I’d pay a subscription for WFNY. Probably not more than $25 a year or so, but if that was the price, I would do it. Especially if you threw in a coffee mug or something.

  • Chucky Brown

    I know a lot of people consider Cleveland to be a Browns town, but are any of them actually proud of that?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Im relieved to hear you made it through the entire piece despite said “distractions.”

  • Roosevelt

    I think the most striking part is that it turns out the people who were admired for their writing weren’t as admirable as they thought. The internet did more than just give writing another platform. It gave us a window of a few years where there was no journalism hierarchy screening out random writers and promoting random others.

    It will take another couple years, but eventually corporate control over whatever platform hosts written media will return. At that point, the bottleneck will be back. We’ll still get the Steve Rushins and Joe Posnanskis who are both good and who manage to convince the hierarchy of it. But we’ll be deprived again of the A.J. Daulerios and Will Leitches, who made it up through the subversive blogosphere.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Will is doing very well at NYMag; I assume he will be fine. The meritocracy will always churn out the cream. Drew Magary turned dick jokes and snark into a feature-writing gig at GQ and his work is always entertaining.

  • mgbode

    On Pluto, the point is that many in the blogosphere will pay, read his work, and write their own articles based on it. Therefore, you do not necessarily have to pay and end up getting a broader spectrum based on his work.

  • mgbode

    “If I’m the first to tweet that Kyrie Irving is out tonight, who gives a shit?”

    sadly, your boss would, which is why they do it. first-to-report has become a golden staple of the industry and can carry the tab when others repeat it: “Kyrie Irving is out tonight (PD first reported)”

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    I have a few thoughts, but I’m not sure how well I can put them into a comment but whatever here goes:

    The Atlantic, as much as I love it, is struggling with adaptation to the digital medium. Some of the authors often ask readers of their online material to purchase a subscription (which is wonderfully honest, but also strange when you step back and think about having unfettered access to so much information for free). They’ve taken their lumps – both in this instance, and more egregiously when they ran an ad for Scientology as a featured article or some such thing. Everyone is figuring it out as they go, and as much as there’s always been tumult in the media field (radio was terrifying to the old guard and then TV was terrifying and now the Internet is terrifying), there’s a lot more kick back from the consumer than I recall noticing before (I’m in my late 20s and didn’t notice much of anything for a long while).

    There’s a lot of entitlement that we have as consumers now, even beyond the old ‘the customer is always right’ nature of American culture. The Internet has democratized information to an extent that’s never been seen. That most things are available for free only exacerbates the issue of entitlement.

    I don’t really know what more to add but it’s a really interesting issue and I think we’d be better off if we payed for things that we like and not complain about free things but I’m a dreamer.

  • Roosevelt

    Of course those specific writers will be fine. But their future analogues will be the same as those writers were before the internet – gifted writers with no access to an audience. My point was that the cream never rose to the top; a specific subset of the cream who happened to get lucky did. As big media irons out the kinks of profiting from tech platforms, they will also work together with the leagues to absorb a large part of the successful blogosphere and severely curtail the rest, thus restoring the randomness.
    PS: I forgot to include Bill Simmons in the list of writers who made it only because of the internet.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    “I think we’d be better off if we payed for things that we like and not complain about free things…”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    When the team distributes a press release and seven people rush to tweet it, regardless of who is first, the part people remember us that he’s out, not who “reported” it first. In this instance, the team is doing the reporting, not the reporter. This is worth nothing and the sooner newspapers realize it, the better they will be. What *is* worth something is the why and how…not the what.

  • Roosevelt

    But isn’t this exactly what the current media is failing to do? Isn’t this exactly why I get my Cleveland sports news on WFNY instead of at the PD? Isn’t this exactly why the Te’o story (and the Favre story, and the financial statement stories, etc.) are ripe for the picking? Print media took a huge hit when the internet changed everything about platforms. People stopped reading specific papers because people didn’t immediately spot the difference between the NY Times and the AP articles with 5000 sources on Google News. But the secondary hit was that people like you guys at WFNY suddenly were able to get heard, and the illusion that Pluto and Grossi were somehow more knowledgeable than a dedicated, intelligent fan, fell apart.

    I think it’s inevitable that we will return to the point where we have to pay for most of our sports related information and commentary, and in that world people like you will be either officially hired by the media or severely curtailed. But it will be a tragedy because now we know that the Emperor had no clothes. Or at least none that a dedicated, intelligent fan couldn’t sew.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Very kind words, Tom. I’ll work on getting you that mug.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Very kind words, Tom. I’ll work on getting you that mug.

  • mgbode

    yes, I agree. I just wanted to make sure it was noted that it’s not the beat reporters fault they are being forced to do that. as an employee, you make your boss happy.

    i wish places could figure out what pieces of info are important and which are not, but i don’t have much faith in that currently.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Thank you.

  • saggy

    but film used to cost SOOOO much money, and developing took a lot of time. That’s what you were paying for. now, if you are a talented photog with a good system, you can put minimal effort into the post-event work and still have it be stunning.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    As a broadcast sales professional (radio), I think I can add something to this dicussion.

    The ship is not sinking. You just need to look at the people that have been able to adapt. What do they have in common? Great content. Creating great content in any medium is the best way to ensure that people will pay to consume it…through pay walls or traditional advertising, which is still alive and thriving on many radio and tv stations, by the way.

    Newspapers have had a difficult time switching to the web, because many of them haven’t yet figured out that the best content is long-form investigstive journalism. It’s not click bait, but your most loyal readers WILL pay to subscribe to it. In short, many newspapers struggle to gain attention, because they have fired their investigative reporters and kept only their daily news beat reporters. This is the wrong idea, because in the age of instantaneous news reporting, getting the scoop is worthless. Who cares if you beat the other guy to a story by 90 seconds. Do you have anything interesting to say about it?

    Systemically, newspapers are also struggling, because their readership is aging. All broadcast sales pros have seen some set of survey data that shows the average reader of the physical paper is age 55+. They just need to kick the hard copy fish wrapper for good.

    In the end, I come back to content. In Columbus, we just saw a sports talk show shoot up the ratings and make a big splash financially for the station (before a certain incident brought it crashing down…not my station). They succeeded, because listeners enjoyed the content. People may say they will never pay for journalistic content, but I think most of those people are kidding themselves. How many of those people were never going to pay for music again, yet many of them subscribe to Spotify, listen to Pandora WITH ads, and 93% of Americans listen to good old fashioned regular radio with ads weekly, because they like the content.

    Provide good content. You will prosper. Don’t…and you will not.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    As the spouse of a professional photographer, I can say without a doubt that that is the opposite of the truth. You pay for the talent of the photographer, not the film. Don’t agree? Hire a $250 photographer for the next wedding in your family. I’m sure you’ll be thrilled with the results.

    Top photographers demand $2k to $5k per wedding…and get it. And for good reason.

  • saggy

    i tried to make the point that you have to be a talented photographer first. i guess that didn’t come across. But as someone who used to buy film, take pictures, and develop them religiously, i can tell you that it was remarkably more expensive 20 years ago. It’s not even close.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    You are exactly right about the beat reporters. As I mentioned in my own comment, being first to the punch in an instantaneous and constant news cycle is pointless. Yet, for some stupid reason, editors still value it. Newspapers have gone as far as to fire their entire investigative staff in favor of beat reporters that do nothing more than try to be first to the web with an injury report that most of us will see on twenty outlets within a half hour. Talk about a waste of energy.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I see. I misunderstood and I hope I didn’t come across as too defensive. I agree that talent comes first in photography, as in all skilled professions. I just can’t stand the myth that software can make you talented just by clicking some buttons. That’s like saying auto tune makes you a great singer if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

    I guess my frustration shows through sometimes. I work in radio, and my wife is a photographer…two professions plagued by the “any idiot can do that” problem…just like journalism.

    Thanks for clarifying.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Agreed on the subscription to WFNY. If it’s reasonable, I’ll pay for it. I actually think that in the case of niche sites like WFNY, the model of asking people to pay whatever amount they like, so long as they pay SOMETHING, could work. Sure, some people would pay $1 per year, but your biggest supporters might pony up $50 to $100. I know that must be better than what you get for the online ads.

  • Jim

    Sites like this show why there is no longer a need to pay to read people like Pluto. I’m not saying he’s bad, quite the opposite. But he writes opinion pieces, the same way guys on this site do. His opinion is no mo valid than the WFNY writers just because his content is delivered via ink on paper.

    I am willing to pay for good long form content. I would probably pay a few bucks a month for WFNY. As much as I despise most things ESPN, I’d pay for Grantland if I had to.

    I think the sites that will flourish in the future, will offer content across multiple platforms- written pieces on the web, as well as podcasts and video content.

    Content is, was and always will be, king. The delivery method no long matters. The sites that offer rich, multimedia content, will be able to monetize that content and survive.

  • MrCleaveland

    Sarcasm noted, although not warranted.

    If you’re going to write an article extolling the quality of some internet writing and it’s full of careless mistakes, then you defeat your purpose. You obviously don’t care about spelling and you apparently don’t check your work before you post it, and that diminishes the quality of your work. So my criticism is completely relevant.

    I’m just sticking to the topic here. If you want to turn in sloppy work, that’s your choice. But it’s not something I would ever pay for.

    You can take offense to this or maybe you can take something else from it.

  • MrCleaveland

    1. “payed”? — you guys did this on purpose, didn’t you? Good one.

    2. Nothing is free. At the very least, readers invest their time and attention.

  • maxfnmloans

    looks like the writers at Gawker are maybe trolling WFNY for ideas:

    http://gawker.com/5989280/when-people-write-for-free-who-pays?utm_source=deadspin.com&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=recirculation

    good news Scott, your story was up first. And as you said, that’s all that matters these days, LOL.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    Well put, Kevin. Thanks for the addition.

  • Steve

    It’s not that “any idiot can do that”. It’s that a lot of idiots (and some smart people) are willing to do it a lot cheaper.

    Until you prove that you are that much better than the cheap idiots, why do you expect to get paid better than them?

  • Steve

    Insider is getting Kevin Pelton. He’ll fit the hole left by Hollinger. You’ll love him.

  • Steve

    I don’t necessarily agree. Sure, plenty of good content will generate revenue. But as someone in the radio, you have to notice the race to appeal to the casual, short-memory viewer/listener.

    Skip Bayless generates a ton of views for ESPN than anything else they can put on in the middle of a weekday. Skip and Stephen A yelling past each other is more popular than a well-produced and announced rugby (or whatever fairly-obscure sport ESPN could chose to broadcast instead), and incredibly cheaper too. Cheap content that can attract casual viewers for a few minutes is a lot more prosperous than expensive content that may not hit more than a nice market.

  • saggy

    Kev,

    I think I now realize we are speaking to the same end. There is certainly a talent that is clicking buttons, but I ain’t paying anyone for it!

    Your point is actually something i grapple with on a daily basis – how to make people understand the value of your service. In other words: How to make people understand that your service is better than the cheaper/easier option.

    I think the whole question above revolves around this exact “problem”, while also obviously tugging at people’s wallets. How do you convince people to pay you for your words when they can get other words for free??

  • C-Bus Kevin

    You’ll get no argument from me that our industry is full of thoughtless blowhards just looking for a good sound bite. There will always be a market for shouters on the radio and side boob on the Internet.

    I’m just saying that the people with staying power over the long term tend to connect with their audience in a meaningful way. On the radio, the good personalities haven’t forgotten this. That’s why techmo bowl tournaments, charity drives, live broadcasts, and meet n greets still happen.

    On WFNY, I would argue that the connection comes in the comment section where the authors will engage the readers in lively, intelligent, and sometimes heated debate. Can you get that on Cleveland.com? ESPN.com? Nope. That’s a real value that I am willing to pay for with a subscription or by the WFNY guys charging for ads on there site.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Thanks!

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Speaking of the value of words…do you guys actively seek out advertisers for your site, or do the ads generate on their own a la Google?

    I’ve often wondered about this. If its not something you would want to discuss publicly, I understand.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    My wife struggles with the “talented idiots” willing to do good work for next to nothing regularly. Her answer, just let those clients go. As a wedding photographer, your most valuable commodity is time. There are only 52 Saturdays per year.

    If one client doesn’t see the value, you go find one that does. She’d rather shoot one wedding for $1,000 than 3 for $400. You just have to decide what you’re worth and stick to it. That’s how the radio business works too. We have a finite amount of time to sell. Sometimes you just have to let the price divers go.

  • Steve

    If that works for you guys, I’m glad for you. But we’ve seen for quite a while that technology can significantly close the talent gap, and people expect to see that mean they can keep more of their money.

    If the market determines your service is worth less than you think it is, it’s tough to reverse that line of thinking.

  • Steve

    That’s a real value that you are willing to pay for, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of the market agrees.

    A lot more people click on Bleacher Report articles (and even when they completely expect to get garbage!) than buy a Baseball Prospectus/Basketball Prospectus/Football Outsiders subscription.

    I can agree that some kind of connection with the audience matters, but that’s not what you were saying before. We were talking about this”

    “Provide good content. You will prosper. Don’t…and you will not.”

    Not only am I not seeing this, I’m seeing the complete opposite.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    But that’s just it. Not everyone needs to pay for it. It’s like when you see a BMW ad during a football game. Realistically, that ad is only going to be relevant for 5 to 10% of the audience, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t make sense to run that ad.

    It’s always been he case that advertisers spend money reachig all of the viewers/listeners/readers of content, while it only realt impacts a valuable percentage of the audience.

    I’m arguing that if content providers make great content and provide it for a receptive audience, they can still get the “right” consumers to pay for it through subscriptions and advertising.

    For another metaphor, go back to the old medium of newspapers. Before the days of the Internet, advertisers would lay out big money to reach certain members of the readership, even though the ad would be seen by non-target demos and people that pick up the paper for free. But the ad directed at the target adience paid the bills.

    Stop looking for a perfect model where everyone pays, and start lookig for a model where ENOUGH people pay.

  • Steve

    But not when great content is expensive to create, and positive results from it aren’t guaranteed. Its not a risk that companies deem worth taking. CNN cut a lot of long form journalism because the return wasn’t worth it. People aren’t willing to pay for great content. They want a lot of cheap content.

    And if any metaphor no longer applies, its the old newspaper model.