The Murdochs and the Jobs of the world have you believe that people would be inclined to pay for news content. Murdoch has the most to lose as his empire is heavily reliant on traditional print media whilst Jobs has the most to gain in the digital arena.
What it comes down to is whether or not people will buy news related content.
As I grew up, my father would have The Sun (and subsequently The Herald Sun) as well as The Financial Review delivered to the doorstep of his medical practice everyday. Delivery was organised with the local newsagent and unless someone had come past and knocked it off (which happened every so often) it was fairly certain that you would get the news. My father still gets his papers the same way and does very little online apart from the occasional e-mail.
I, on the other hand, do not subscribe to any newspapers or journals. I had one one magazine subscription for APC which I have cancelled in favour or receiving and reading on my iPad. Apart from that, I receive my news for numerous online sources all of which are free.
Is there a difference between journalist content (comparatively watered down and increasingly sensationalistic compared to previous decades) and blog content? Steve Jobs has said:
“I don’t want us to become a nation of bloggers myself. I think we need editorial more than ever right now.”
I think professional journalism is something that has clearly suffered over the years. It has largely descended into trashy and throwaway content that serves little more than to turn a profit for the big media companies. On the other hand, independent bloggers may be more passionate, outspoken and perhaps more biased than a journalist but offer an alternate point of view that has not been processed and shrink wrapped by the media machines.
I think independent thought is something sorely lacking these days. A lot of people accept spoon-fed journalism from the press and mindlessly regurgitate it. I’m not convinced that necessarily paying for online news content is going to change this at all and Jobs just wants a slice of Murdoch’s pie.
Maybe I have been spoilt by news on free-to-air television (which is now largely rubbish too) but news sources like Al Jazeera (free on TPG IPTV) and the BBC go some way to sure up what is left of better journalism. I’m holding on to my cash for the time being unless I see a compelling reason to pay for news.
Would you pay for news content?
I’d certainly pay for good journalism, but at the moment, I’m satisfied that the ABC is reasonable in that regard. If they go downhill though and start reporting on Britney Spears and what she’s up to I’ll dump it very quickly!