When It Comes to Online Media, Just The Facts Are Free . . .

March 24th, 2010
by

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual report is once again upon us. As in the past, it confirms that the majority of us get our information online and that we do not want to pay for it, subscribe to it, or pay-per-click for an article.

The facts may be free, but getting them collected, edited, checked, and delivered to you online or otherwise still costs money. Like almost every else When It Comes to Online Media, Just the Facts Are Freeyou do in this life, you do get what you pay for. The old joke of “hiring’em young while they still got all the answers” may work fine for opining in the blogosphere, but may not cut it in the “knock three times and tell’em Dan sent you” world of investigative journalism.

Then there is this little issue of legality. At the recent OnCopyright 2010 conference put together by the Copyright Clearance Center in New York City, a self-proclaimed investigative blogger lamented the chilling effect of the many defensive lawsuits filed against him. While we may be prejudiced against the larger media organizations at times, they can stand up to this type of intimidation. To preempt the criticism they vet their sources and data prior to publishing and if that’s not enough they have financial resources to support their position.

Back to free; the cry is that everything should be free on the Internet . . . Well it never has been and never will be. The content and information you get every day on the web is being paid for by somebody, usually advertisers. For lots of reasons we can look at later, this subsidy is just not cutting it.

So if we want reliable, vetted information we have to support its creation. In other words, we have to pay for it. The organizations that are creating vetted content are searching for a way to do this. There are a number of models being tried currently.

  1. The pay-wall which is in place at a number of sites and variations are being implemented by the Financial Times and the New York Times.
  2. The pay-by-article model for which you pay only for what you read á la iTunes.
  3. A central subscription service for many participating providers.

I believe all of these are doomed to fail. However, I do believe there is a fourth solution that could prove viable and consumer-friendly. It would be a hybrid of the pay-by-article model and the aggregated subscription combined with some as of yet unreleased technology.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to examining more closely some of these monetization options and having a bit of discourse on the topic. In the interim, I strongly recommend that anyone whose livelihood, especially journalists and public relations professionals, is tied to media read the Pew Report. And share their thoughts with myself and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

2 Responses to “When It Comes to Online Media, Just The Facts Are Free . . .”

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by BurrellesLuce: “Just the facts are free…” New post from @BurrellesLuce’s Dan Schaible http://budurl.com/tjs7

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ValerieSimon, Tressa Robbins, Johna Burke, Kelly Growley, BurrellesLuce and others. BurrellesLuce said: "Just the facts are free…" New post from @BurrellesLuce's Dan Schaible http://budurl.com/tjs7 […]

Leave a Reply