With the launch of the new Sunday Times websites (separating from The Times) fast approaching and with all this talk of Rupert Murdoch introducing charges on the various newspaper websites he owns around the world I thought I’d take a look at alternatives.
The Independent Newspaper has an interesting way of making a bit of extra cash from their website – they’re restricting printing.
OK it might seem strange to want to print a story you’ve got right in front of you on the screen but being able to print something and then take it away to read later is a useful resource.
It’s also useful to be able to print if you want to hand it out as a resource at a talk/debate or lesson – so the idea of having ‘extra’ charges for extra prints isn’t that silly.
Unfortunately, this is the internet so they have to rely on a ‘good will’ model.
They’ve got a system in placefrom iCopyright that allows them to offer you alternatives for printing within a popup – but that wouldn’t stop you just copying and pasting.
You get the choice of a ‘free print’ where you can make up to five copies using your home or office printer for free (with an ad).
You can make an Instant print on your home printer with six or more copies from 25p to £1 per copy without ads.
You can get a quote for customised prints with your own logo for more than 100 copies on high quality paper.
Or you can have 50+ copies printed by them and sent to you within two business days, these cost 75p to £1.10 per copy – again with no adverts.
So the site itself, the articles on screen are free to view (at the moment) but printing on a bulk level will cost you money. Not sure this helps them or makes any real difference – but it is different.
Another approach might be to follow the trend currently being set by the music industry and go live, take your wares to the people.
Felix from Basement Jaxx told me that where once they would go on tour to support and promote their album – now they release an album to support a tour.
Newspapers could learn from this model, and this is one I think The Guardian seem to be catching on to.
This could be as simple as having live versions of their more popular podcasts with a paying audience or it could be by hosting full conferences.
It could be by funding talks or debates in regional theatres by controversial figures or even by running quiz nights with a star host.
Whatever approach is taken, whether it be to charge for full access to a newspaper website, to charge for premium content but leave news free or to go for an alternative like printing or live events – there seems to be plenty of choices.
I think in the end the approach that works, once the world of print newspapers is no longer viable on any serious scale, will be a combination of everything but the ‘all charge’ approach currently being favoured by News Corp.
I think what we’ll see is large multimedia news sites that charge for access to premium content like popular columnists, games and media content.
This could also include business specific content like financial data, academic resources and media industry jobs.
But at the same time make news and information content available for free and funded by advertising so that your average user, who won’t see any benefit in paying for news can still give you some revenue.