We Never Paid For The News

I have something to remind newspaper companies: “We have never paid you for the news stories.”

I feel that I need to remind newspaper companies about this fact because it seems that the new business model for newspapers is to make us pay for the news. More often I am finding that when I go to a newspaper site it limits the number of articles that I read, or it only lets me part of an item before telling me that I need to have a paid subscription to read the rest.

I understand that newspaper companies are trying to make up for lost advertising revenue. I know that they have to pay for the quality journalists who are doing the work. This approach starts with the assumption that we want news from your specific perspective.

But we live in a world where I can say, “Hey Google, tell me the news” and I get a 4 minute CBC news on what is happening in the world. We live in a world where I can visit BBC or CNN and watch videos of interviews and in-depth content. We live in a world someone could tell me about the news Twitter.

Don’t make me pay for what was free.

When I was a kid, we had a subscription to a newspaper. When I first moved out, I subscribed to the newspaper. The news was the content. But what we were paying for is the delivery. We were paying for the service.

I paid for a subscription to a newspaper so that I could read it while eating breakfast. I was willing to pay because I didn’t want to have to watch the evening news. I was ready to pay because it was easier than walking to the coffee shop and reading the paper there. I could have gotten the same news stories anywhere. I wasn’t paying for the news; I was paying for the way that I could interact with the news.

A word to newspapers, and anyone trying to change the world: “Don’t make people pay for something that they can get for free.”

For newspapers, this means coming up with a delivery model that works for people. CBC decided to make themselves the default news for Google Home when it came into Canada. They are giving the same news away and making the delivery method useful to people.

I understand that newspapers need to make money to pay quality journalists. And I agree on the importance of this. But don’t start to sell us content that we have had free access to forever. Find a way to deliver the material in a new and convenient way – then we’ll all be willing to pay for it.

Yesterday I said today I would post about one way that I won’t try to make money. I won’t try to make money charging people for something that is already free. This blog is free, and there is plenty of free advice out there. Increasing revenue will be about finding ways to deliver something useful in a way that is helpful. Not charging for something that you used to get for free. And like I said yesterday, I still have no idea how I am going to do that. But for now, I’m going to check in with my Google Home Mini to see what the news is.