Is this a future for the newspaper business?

Updated on August 16, 2009

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More than 500 newspapers have signed up for an online news charging scheme, says Brand Republic.

A US company called Journalism Online has signed up newspapers and online news outlets across the USA to use its e-commerce system for charging readers to access online content. Brand Republic says the company intends to launch this autumn.

Journalism Online was founded in April by Steven Brill, journalist and journalism lecturer at Yale; Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal; and Leo Hindery, who heads the media industry fund InterMedia Partners.

Brand Republic adds that Journalism Online has not said which titles it has signed but claims to have letters of intent from almost 180 daily newspapers and 330 non-dailies, which boast 90m monthly online users between them.

Journalism Online does have a clear business model:

1. Each publisher’s website is powered with the Journalism Online e-commerce engine, which allows customers to have one easy-to-use account common to all the publishers’ websites. This allows consumers to sign up just once to purchase annual or monthly subscriptions, day passes, and single articles from multiple publishers. The password-enabled payment system is integrated into all of the member-publishers’ websites, and the publishers have sole discretion over which content to charge for, how much to charge, and the manner of charge.

2. The option to sell an all-inclusive annual or monthly subscriptions for those consumers who want to pay one fee to access all of the Journalism Online-member publishers’ content.

3. Negotiations of wholesale licensing and royalty fees with intermediaries such as Kindle or Apple or search engines and other websites that currently base much of their business models on referrals of readers to the original content on newspaper, magazine and online news websites.

4. Reports to member publishers on which strategies and tactics are achieving the best results in building circulation revenue while maintaining the traffic necessary to support advertising revenue.

Will it work?

Well, if there’s good enough content – it doesn’t have to be compelling, just good enough and lots of it – and if enough people are willing to sign up and pay, why not?

See also:

[Newspaper image courtesy of The Newspaper Clipping Generator.]

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Mailing Lists

    Seems like an interesting idea and like you said, if the content is good quality, then the odds of success are better. It’s good to see that the newspaper industry is trying to keep up with technology and modern media.

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