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In which hog fuel demonstrates that paid content has potential

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Here’s the best case against paid news content. It’s two sentences long:

We tried that. It didn’t work.

But there’s a powerful rebuttal to that case, one that grizzled online-news veterans (like my man Steve Yelvington, linked above) miss: The economics have changed since last time.

No, consumer desires haven’t changed since 1996. Sorry, Al, they wouldn’t pay for traditional newspaper content online then, and they won’t now. But local media incentives have changed since 1996.

The real question: whether those incentives have changed enough to force newspapers to make the crucial shift that could keep them alive — a shift to niche products.

If you want to understand how newspaper incentives have changed, you need to understand the following short story from the great Northwest.

It’s a story about hog fuel.

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