In Tim McGuire’s Business & Future of Journalism class, there was a discussion about how much people are willing to pay for their news. The debating ranged everywhere; from full subscribers to micropayments, down to no payments at all. I suppose, for the record, I should say that I was definitely one of the ones who WOULDN’T pay.
Regardless, I ran across a blog covering this exact debate. Actually, the argument is geared toward the potential use of a micropayment system from an article previously written in Time. It states that people are increasingly reading online content and surprisingly, traditional journalism is more popular than ever. The problem is that it’s essentially being given away and subscriptions are at a low…what a shocker.
Walter Isaacson, the article’s author, recommends the use of micropayments [combined with advertising] as a way to prevent traditional journalism from completely crumbling. Even the author of the blog caved and eventually agreed with this. But I still don’t buy it.
I honestly cannot see how the implementation of a very small fee (be it per click/article/download/etc.) could save an entire industry. Maybe save is too big of a word. Well I still don’t see how it could further stimulate an entire industry and one that’s been around forever, mind you. I’m fully aware of the whole, “Why should I vote, it doesn’t even matter…” question that is often counter-argued with, “If EVERYONE said that, it would make a difference!” but I’m still not sold.
Why, during our country’s horrid economic status, would the majority of people pay a nickel here, a couple bucks there for an article? I emphasize the majority because I know that some people will pay for anything. And by some, I mean a lot. I just can’t see it being enough. Jobs are being lost left and right, while others have yet to even enter the working-world. Competition is extremely stiff, as it should be, and it’s not just stopping at who can get hired first.
The fact is, someone will present the news for free. It is inevitable. All it takes is for that someone to be holding true name, or brand, recognition and micropayments will become obsolete. Traditional journalism fuels online content, and I don’t think papers will die off [for awhile] but we rely so heavily on the digital transformation. It’s not a stretch to think someone will pay and make the content available via BitTorrent for others to access. That doesn’t even come close to a big name company presenting it for free and yet it covers thousands, even millions, of online users.
Yes, people will pay, but it’s probably the same amount of people who bought any MP3 player that wasn’t an iPod.