“Big Media is at the mercy of the tech giants and it’s their own fault”
But the idea that you can put the likes of Amazon and Apple in the same box as news organisations is absurd.
News organisations are obviously looking for ways to make money in the brave new world of digital journalism. I am in favour of this, because I’d like to be employed.
Conventional wisdom amongst many advocates of digital media (Twitterati sounds dated now) believe that paywalling content will kill traffic, audience and jars heavily against the nature of the web. But there’s no clear picture really.
But how about this – news organisations have never charged for content, have they?
They’ve charged advertisers for precious access to readers and charged consumers a token amount to subsidise the cost of delivering that content to them.
But consumers of the news have paid and continue to pay only for the medium of that content. The paper, the television, the internet contract, not the news.
A commenter on Daniel’s post:
“This is not true. The internet is an open platform. All it takes is for anyone, regardless of whether its a new business or a legacy player, to set up shop, understand how to do business on a platform (which it should already know how to do, having done it previously) and marry an audience to that offering. That’s the ‘secret’ behind the ‘tech giants.’ Super simple!”
Why have Amazon and Apple been successful? Because they control the medium in which we receive content. We don’t pay for news stories, but we buy iPhones, Kindles, Macbooks and desktops in their millions. Again, the medium, not the content itself.
The above comment oversimplifies the concept of ‘setting up shop‘ on the internet, and marrying an audience to that offering. News organisations have been in the production of news for hundreds of years. Now they are essentially expected to be involved in the business of retail. That’s difficult. It will take time.
However I do agree that we should be seeing more successful startups establishing themselves – I think it’s easier to do that when you’re a more nimble operation with no print legacy or retraining staff to be digitally savvy.
But again that takes time.
How many people of my parents generation (mid 50s) go to say, Slate over the Guardian, Storyful over Sky News? Established media still hold incredible sway through their recognisable brands, which is why they continue to be the biggest players in the game.
I’m far from being a stoic defender of established news organisations. Little leaps forward are being made – but all on the content side of things. That’s because it’s much easier to see how Facebook and Twitter have succeeded in terms of content delivery and mirror that by employing journalists who understand good delivery methods for news content.
The economics of this are obviously more complicated, and it’s telling that a news organisation who might seem to be in financial dire straits like the Guardian also have one of the strongest digital content offerings in the world.