Sunday, 20 December 2009

Will People Pay For Online News?

A couple of weeks ago, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper firms, The Johnston Press started charging for access to its online content. It is the first regional publisher in the UK to do this and although the company owns over 300 papers, it has decided to run a trial with just six of their papers charging for its online content. The Johnston Press websites are asking their readers to pay £5 for a three month subscription.

It is expected that many national newspapers will follow and also do a trial with their online content as they look to find a successful business model to offer a solution to the decrease in revenue that they are faced with. I can possibly see this business model working for the regional newspapers but I can’t see it working for the national newspapers.

My local newspaper, The Malvern Gazette hasn’t got any competition from other local newspapers within the area. In this case, I think if The Malvern Gazette charged for their online content then their online readers would be prepared to either pay a small fee or switch to the traditional paper form as they have no other substitute to choose from due to the papers monopoly position within the area.

The problem for the national newspapers is that it’s so easy to find free online news on the internet and unless every single news source in the country decides to start charging, then people won't pay for online news and they will get their news from other free news websites. If a newspaper such as The Times, started charging for their online content then other national newspapers that are in competition with them may not follow in fear that they will lose their readers.

With television broadcast companies such as the BBC and Sky News, I can’t see them ever charging for their online news as they are not faced with the financial trouble that the newspaper organisations are faced with and then this could help prevent the business model of charging for online content ever succeeding.

Some kind of solution needs to be thought up quickly, if journalism is to have any sort of future. Many jobs are being lost within the occupation and with the increasing influence that public relations practitioners have within the news agenda, journalism is under a lot of threat.

What are your views on this?

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