Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What would a content site look like if you started from how to make money?

Here's a suggestion I haven't heard before: somebody ought to figure out what kind of business will support journalism rather than focusing on why our old business won't.

Perhaps that's an oversimplification, but the whole argument is really pretty simple. Here's the nut graf from a discussion aimed at finding new journalism business models:

The reason newspapers and magazines are dying is that what they do is no longer related to how they make money from it ... So what will the content site of the future look like? And how will you make money from it? These questions turn out to be very closely related. Just as they were for print media, initially.

Scott Rosenberg takes that starting point and spins it out with a bit more subtlety than the Y Combinator post did. Neither view perfectly reflects what I think about the issue, but both perform the important – no, crucial – service of insisting that simply thinking about our new problems in old ways is certain to be inadequate.

I am increasingly convinced that filtering, selecting and verifying the news that matters most into an accessible package is a service that will make money – enough money to sustain sophisticated accountability journalism. I don't agree that the whole future of news rests with small, decentralized pro/am operations of increasing specialization and ever narrower niches.

But I know we need to explore all the options, and I certainly agree with Rosenberg on this point:

The old bundle of information services and advertising that supported print journalism is gone, Humpty-Dumpty style, and nobody’s going to glue it back together. A deeper rethinking is needed, and those of us who want to see journalism thrive ought to be working hard to come up with answers to Graham’s question.


  1. Hmmm, filtering and selecting the "stuff that matters"... that sounds so oddly familiar...

  2. So where does something The Batavian, which is making money, growing revenue and growing audience, fit into this vision of the future?