Monday, October 19, 2009

What is wrong with Rupert's plan?

You know, watching Media Watch tonight and being reminded of the great News Corp free content bitchfight, I started to have some sort of activity in my brain-box. It would seem my mind grapes were filling up with juiciness, and my inner light bulb was starting to resemble somthing that was alight.

I think most observers note that it will be a cold day in hell before people pay online for general news when there are a plethora of alternative news sites and a history of being able to get the news for free. Again, most people concede that consumers will eventually pay for content which is not available now. The question on everybody's lips is though : what form would this never-seen before content take?

That's the question I grappled with for five minutes, and this being the internet, I shall now tell you with a great deal of personal conviction about the idea which I formulated for five minutes.

Already in this country, Crickey have had some success actually selling content which differed from the main news stories of the day, and this content usually takes the form of opinion and in-depth analysis of the day's events. This content is delivered straight to the inboxes to subscribers but at the moment, exactly what is delivered to their inboxes is entirely up the content creators.

With more and more sources for news and opinion cropping up, the power has shifted squarely to the consumer. What is what was delivered to these inboxes was entirely up to the consumer? Now, this already exists in some forms, but what I propose is a much more comprehensive form of consumer control.

What if people were to choose exactly what type of news was delievered? For instance, people could to have political news delivered, but not business news. Let's break that down further. What if a consumer wanted news about state politics, and news about mining business news? What if people wanted news about their sport, with a focus on football and cricket?

Consumers would have control of what they read, but this is no basis for getting money from people. This is just eliminating a certain amount of clickwork, and should in my opinion should be offered for free.

What I propose is that extra content be not the ablility of people to select and choose what they are fed for a main course, but the dessert of opinion from the consumers' favourite authors. Do people like reading Miranda Devine for some reason? They can pay to have her columns exlusively delivered to them on a daily basis. Do people love Philip Adams with their breakfast? They can pay to stream a podcast.

Couple this with the mingling of all mediums that the internet represents and we're starting to have kind of idea here. I think the old moguls really love the Citizen Kane scene where he starts to assemble a crack team of writers from publications around the country to write for his newspapers.

Let's re-cap. People get to select and choose what they want for free as a basic news service. They get the writing of their favourite authors for a small cost, maybe to be deducted monthly from the consumers bank accounts (perhaps the phone companies can get involved somehow?). What happens when this model becomes popular?

All of a sudden, we become present at the creation of a new type of media competition. All the major players will be scrambling to provide the best service to capture the market which is now dictating to the creators. When these conditions are present, a great deal of competition is also present. When the news outlets compete on a somewhat level-playing field, there's going to be a great deal of investment of what's driving their profits.

That extra content, provided by the fantastic writers, video journalists and podcasters out there. Hey, does this healthy competition sound appealing or what? The core principles of journalism will be what will set these individuals apart, and when market forces dictate competition the focus will be on investment rather than cost-cutting.

You know all that doom and gloom about journalists' working conditions? Thanks to this new playing field, they'll actually be in demand. The focus will be on providing the best product, not the same product for less.

There's a bit of brain-food for a Monday night.

'Till Next Time