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.