Sunday, 16 August 2009

News Poaching

I read with interest Goodhand's column yesterday re: "news poaching", as well as PFrog's follow-up post. Desperate ? Mebbe. If you see your subscriber base dwindling and the number of people who make a buck off of "repackaging" your product increasing, it can't hurt to call them on it.

On the fee-for-news front, Rupert Murdoch announced last week that his NewsCorp empire is going to unveil a fee scheme soon. BrandRepublic is reporting that over 500 U.S. papers are aboard a new 'fee-for-news' program called Journalism Online. One subscription and you can access their client papers through their search engine. Their mission statement begins:

Until recently, consumers of journalism always paid a reasonable price to access the news and information they valued. The Internet changed this bargain.

Yes, I know there are many out there who know 'exactly how this is all going to turn out' with crystal clarity. In the short term, though, smaller market papers are left with a bit more of a scramble on their hands. Do you do the Brandon Sun thing and put up a tight subscription wall and in forums and other new media hang-outs get left out of the discourse ? I am not sure if the Sun has seen a dramatic increase in subscribers since moving away from their free site - I'd imagine not so much.

Do you do what the Free Press has done and throw almost all of your content out there ? You're the most quoted news source but, as Goodhand points out, that's a double edged sword.

I do media clippings for my employer and on topics that I am interested in - you see the results on some of my blogs. I visit a lot of media sites in the course of a day and wonder why, for instance, the Free Press doesn't beat other media at their own game ? I've seen a number of sites that are incorporating other news and blogs as part of their content. The New York Times did it big-time during the U.S. election with a separate site and many are doing it now on an ongoing basis. A story about the hog industry bailout ? Here's our story and to the right check out links to the NatPost, Kingston Whig-Standard, Manitoba Pork Council and Joe's Pork Blog - why not even the government press release. A lot more content and context for your readers but you're not paying to write it all. Right now, the Free Press does not even pull in Brandon Sun or 'the Weeklies' content on-line content, and those are sister papers.

Large chains and papers with an international reach may have an easier time adapting. Their original content is sought out and reaches well beyond their local market. It's the mid and small sized ones that will need to be creative, and at times unpopular, trying to find something that works for them.


Emma said...

The world is in the midst of a "crisis of context" and your idea of the Free Press providing links to other news/gov't/press releases, etc., is a fantastic one.

I do media monitoring in my job, too, and can say with certainty that this would be hugely beneficial. It would also help the Free Press to emphasize and assert their credibility and authority.

It always amazes me that newspapers forget that when they load their print content online, it is capable of being so much more than text.

mrchristian said...

Thanks - glad to know I'm not nuts !

So much of that sort of stuff is freely available, it's just a matter of including it so that you provide context.

I see the LA times website relaunched and is following in those footsteps of using additional sources to add context and broaden coverage.

Looking through the old newspapers that I do for my history posts it floors me that there is so much that's not part of the paper anymore. School board, Community Committee, municipalities around Winnipeg get nary a mention unless it's something explosive. That's all been seen as "non major daily worthy". What's especially odd is that the FreeP's parent company has reporters at these things and in the neighbourhoods via their weeklies. It would be just some internal accounting that could get that coverage to be part of their site.

A lot of time, energy and money has been put into Twittering headlines, live blogging, broadcasting (then not archiving) meetings, that IMO don't do anything to deepen coverage.