The online business model struggle

Today – May 6 – the New Media & Information: Convergences & Divergences conference in Athens started with a discussion about “journalism in the Internet era”. Participating were representatives from Comment is Free (discussion website Τhe Guardian), El Pais and The New York Times (Editor of Digital News Jim Roberts).

Trust in print was quite low – especially at Τhe Guardian and The New York Times – most of all because of the firm belief that “nobody under 30 would buy a newspaper”. The presentations focused on the online business: the discussion website and web-first strategy (Guardian), newsroom integration and money (El Pais) and multimedia and paid models (NY Times).

The puzzling thing about the online business models was that nobody seemed to have a clue where it was all heading to.

  • Charging for content? “Well maybe and maybe not – depends on the market, but charging will depress visits, maybe for exclusive content.”
  • Web-first strategy: resistance from print people but “the web-first guts usually win”.
  • E-readers: hoping that it will develop into a real business model.
  • Mobile: growing, but expensive to make because of different platforms, question is how to monetize it.
  • Investors: “we are disappointed in the investing community.”
  • Online ad-rates: very low, “we hope it will get better”.

Tomorrow I will talk about free/paid strategies (print only!) and e-readers.

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