My last entry berated newspaper publishers for fearing to take a leap of faith and try new things to get themselves out of the hole they dug themselves into.
But, fortunately, there are a few out there that are willing to give it a try. One of them is the Orange County Register, which decided to run with some recent research on the habits of tablet owners and create a P.M. edition for the iPad. But instead of just turning back the clock 30 years and giving readers a newspaper with final stock prices, the Register team instead focused on a key demographic and is tailoring the content to fit what they are looking for. So instead of an electronic newspaper for the masses, its more of a niche product for young South California professionals.
It’s being offered at a price. But, as the Knight Foundation researchers found, tablet users are willing to pay for content if they find valuable to their lifestyle, in terms of information and fit.
A smart move by the Register, and an experiment everyone should keep an eye on.
Keep in mind that survival of individual news companies won’t be reliant on one big money-maker, but several smaller ones. A P.M. tablet edition tailored for that particular audience could very well be a step in that direction.
The future of paid content … in Slovakia?
As more traditional news outlets jump onto the pay wall wagon, media blogger Alan Mutter highlights one model that seems to be working overseas. Two takeaways he notes:
1. News organizations working together to make it work (though he doesn’t mention if they are in competitive situations)
2. It’s easy for customers to pay.
Would something like this work in, say, New York or Chicago, where competition among news orgs is fierce? That is unsure, but it would be interesting to see the lions sitting with the lambs for the sake of journalism’s future.
More Hype on Hyperlocal
Interest blog item from Erik Wemple of the Washington Post on AOL and hyperlocal site Patch. It’s interesting that Forbes predicts AOL’s massive venture is expected to lose $100 million this year. Seems like Patch’s revenue model — which is very similar to the one that doomed other good ventures earlier in the decade — has yet to catch on for the majority of its 800 sites.
What makes it sad is that Patch was one of the largest employer of out-of-work journalists in the past year (notably at a lower pay scale than they were previously making). If AOL cannot build a sustainable revenue stream for Patch, these journalists will be back on the streets…and that’s the real tragedy.