How Should Newspapers Make Money Online?

newspaperI actually feel sorry for the newspaper industry. I don't know about you, but I read almost all of my news now online and I don't pay a cent for any of it. I want it all, I want it instantly and I want it for free.

When people Google Andy Barrie's name, looking for information as to when he'll return to CBC Radio One, my blog entry on the subject is ranked #2. One of the few mainstream press articles on the subject belongs to the Globe and Mail, only they've hidden their article behind a form. You can't read the Globe article on Andy Barrie's leave of absence without buying 30 days access to it for $4.95 + tax. You can buy four articles for 30 days for $17.95 + tax.

At first this angered me. I don't want to spend over $5 just to read a single article online. The web is about articles being online forever and for free, right? And isn't $5 steep for a single article to be available to me for only 30 days?

I don't really know how newspapers are supposed to make money online in this day and age. I know I didn't pay the $5, and I'm not sure how many people out there would. In fact, just having the article offline will likely push people to other newspapers.

How should newspapers earn an honest buck in this age of the Internet, or are they S.O.L?


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Broader issues aside, Globe articles are free on the Toronto Public Library website.

February 17, 2009 @ 1:18 PM


Hey, I just commented upon that same topic over at Bill Doskoch's blog.

February 17, 2009 @ 2:18 PM

Toronto Mike

That guy's got me beat. He's got pie charts.

February 17, 2009 @ 2:21 PM


This is basically the way I see it: the only reason newspapers made money in the first place is because we didn't have access to information the way we do now - they never "owned" the events that they wrote about, and so any attempt at monetizing that content itself is going to backfire.

Your example is perfect Mike, I can go over to the Globe and Mail's site and pay $5 for ONE ARTICLE (now that's a ripoff), or I can just go to your site and get my information for free, along with some discussion and the possibility of more information coming from that.

It all comes back to the same thing: if I can get the same thing for free, then I'm going to go for the free option. They have to add value to the content in order to make me want to pay them for it - maybe some sort of custom/aggregator service that delivers content to me in several possible formats, or a personality/writer whose exclusive insight is worth the cost, etc. Lots of possibilities here.

This whole "pay or go elsewhere" thing is just hastening their demise because "elsewhere" is a click or two away and is free.

I recently heard about a service called Kachingle, which sounds pretty interesting. Check it out, they're in "preview mode" right now, whatever that means.

February 17, 2009 @ 5:08 PM

Minna Raska

Kudos for writting this post. It is enjoyable reading.

February 8, 2010 @ 10:27 PM

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