Online Business Models

Data from the Pew research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism shows just how much the digital age has impacted how people “get” their news. While the most popular format is currently television as over 70 percent of the population watches television news on a given day, online news sources are close behind with 61 percent of the population. 54 percent of people get their news from the radio on a typical day. Only 50 percent of people read local newspapers and only 17 percent of the population reads national newspapers on a typical day.

In an age where information is so readily available, traditional news organizations have had to revamp their business models to keep up with the current demand of consumers: to have up-to-the-minute news delivered through digital means or close down their operation completely.

Originally, most news organizations were simply allowing access to their online content, which was often exactly the same as their print content, for free. For many news organizations this model has been disastrous, in part because advertising and classifieds have been lost to such websites as Craigslist. However, putting up pay walls to access content has not been successful in every case. News organizations have been responding in different ways to this pressure. Following are just some of them.

Pushing print

The Newport Daily News attempted to dissuade its readers from using digital formats by charging more for access to the online edition.

Newport Daily News: Charging for news online from Nieman Journalism Lab on Vimeo.

Paid Subscriptions to online content

The New York Times charges users a subscription fee if they want to read more than twenty articles a month.

Free

While this whole phenomenon can be blamed on sites such as this, Yahoo! News has totally free access to all of its content. However, it should be noted that Yahoo! makes its money with advertising whereas newspaper sites are not as succesful with that.

Dividing Content

The Boston Globe has embraced both the free and for-profit models by dividing their content between two sites: the free Boston.com and the paid-subscription site Bostonglobe.com. Jeff Sonderman reported that Globe Editor Marty Baron said that the two sites are designed for different types of readers. Bostonglobe.com is for people drawn to more in-depth journalism. Boston.com, however, targets a more casual audience.


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