Friday, February 19, 2021

How about pay by the article versus having to have a subscription to get past the paywall?

The topic of how to pay for professional journalism has come up in a new way. The battle between Facebook and Australia.

Australia is trying to get large social media companies, like Facebook and Google, to pay for news content that they use.

I have a slightly different idea that relates to this issue. More and more news media outlets are going behind paywalls. Usually they want you to subscribe, but articles from hundreds of media outlets come up in my social media feeds. I can't subscribe to hundreds, if not thousands, of publications.

My idea is to have a way to pay by the article. Possibly pay through a social media site that one could have an account with. Money could be held in an account on the site and a deduction could be made as one clicks past the paywall.

When I floated this idea, a few weeks back, a friend of mine with experience in journalism, commented that most media companies are pretty old fashioned so they don't embrace that idea. They are still thinking in terms of an old world with loyal subscribers.

Back in the olden days, media outlets made most of their money from advertising and to a lesser extent from subscriptions. The number of subscribers met more advertising revenue as ad buyers payed by audience size.

These days, lots of the advertising revenue has shifted to the social media platforms; such as Facebook and Google. In Australia, they are trying to tap some of that vast revenue source and bring it back to the companies that create the journalism.

Google has agreed to the Australian system, but Facebook is still resisting. This is an ongoing, evolving situation.

I worry, a bit, that the Australian system might be helping the Murdock news empire too much. Articles say that payouts are going to Murdock, but I wonder if other media outlets get the payments?

Another thing I notice is that Yahoo brings up a lot of news from New York Times and other sources that are often behind paywalls. When the news is on Yahoo, it's often reprinted on Yahoo News, rather than directing one to the website; such as New York Times, that originated the news. Credit is given, however.

I wonder if Yahoo News buys the rights to selected articles to reprint for their readers for free? If so that would be a good model as well.

A new system does need to be figured out to pay for journalism.

NPR Radio's voluntary listener and corporate contributions seems to work quite well. Much of NPR's content is still free and not behind a paywall.

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