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A really stupid idea

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sptwri, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. sptwri

    sptwri Member

    First off, I know the idea is stupid because I've been told it is by some people who have spent some 20 years in a business I have toiled in for 37-plus years.
    I know the idea is stupid because I mentioned it to some people who might have a chance of discussing it on a national scale and haven't heard a word about it since.

    But here's my stupid idea. Newspapers want to make money off the internet? Then continue to give away the news, the features, the alternative offshoots. But start charging $10 a month for sports.

    Yeah, sports. The non-journalism part of newspapers. The toy department. All that. Why? Because you can't get this stuff easily anywhere else. Nobody covers Kansas and Missouri like my sports section. Nobody else covers the Royals or the Chiefs like we do. Heck, nobody covers our local high schools like we do.

    So you want to read about that? Pay for it. Just like you do for Rivals sites on your favorite college teams. And trust me, people do pay for that stuff in a big way in many regions.

    Now, why this won't work? Why this is stupid? Because you can't get the folk in St. Louis to do the same thing. Or you can't get both papers in Dallas (and Fort Worth) to do it at the same time.

    You can't get the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post to do it at the same time.

    And why can't you? I don't know why. I must be stupid.

    Mike DeArmond
  2. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Hi, Mike! It's not a stupid idea. Charging for ALL online information would be a good idea. But newspapers are run by people who do not really think information is a valuable product. They believe in selling their audience as a product to advertisers-even online. They won't abandon their broken business model out of fear of the unknown.
    It's like watching a football coach kick a field goal down 28-0 in the third. We've all seen that, too.
  3. I think the Chicago Tribune tried to do this with the Bears and it didn't work. I know that the Bloomington, Ind., paper does it with Indiana University basketball.
  4. sptwri

    sptwri Member

    Waylon. Seriously? The Trib tried this and it didn't work as well as not doing it and filing bankruptcy?

    Hey, I told you it was a stupid idea:)
  5. sptwri

    sptwri Member

    Ah, but we were so much older then, trouble is we're not much younger now.
  6. RayKinsella

    RayKinsella Member

    I think my idea may be even stupider. I say take all content off the internet. Everything. But see, this won't work if only one paper does it. Or two, or 100. Everyone needs to do it.

    Then it would force the reader to pick up the paper if they want their local sports/news/crap.
  7. britwrit

    britwrit Well-Known Member

    Yeah, what kind of business model is it where you have a local monopoly on something people want and then give it away free?
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I think you gradually start charging. 5 bucks a month for the columns and takeout features. Then the editorials go under that blanket. Then sidebars. Then game stories, on and on and on.

    Leave part of your site free, such as breaking news.

    And no Mike, I don't think it's a stupid idea at all if executed properly. But not one suit in this industry knows how to execute anything properly.
  9. Jake_Taylor

    Jake_Taylor Well-Known Member

    I think you do it like Shaggy said. ESPN started out putting just a few juicy items in the Insider and gradually started putting more and more as people got used to the idea of paying for the good stuff. Newspapers could still post 3 or 4 graphs of a game story and important breaking news for free, but the good stuff would come with an Insider-like subscription.

    You could even let people subscribe to just the stuff they want. I'd pay $5 or 10 a month for the Star's KU coverage and another $5 or 10 for the Royals. I probably wouldn't pay just for the Chiefs right now, but I might pay $15 or 20 for everything in the sports section.
  10. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    Could newspapers all band together and do something like that without getting busted for collusion?
  11. bake1234

    bake1234 Member

    I don't think it's stupid. You have the brand name people look for. I wouldn't pay to read a random blog on my favorite teams, but I'd consider paying for what the best reporters in the business think about my teams. I think it's worth trying if you can get the suits to agree. But, as has been mentioned, they're still clinging to an old business model and are too scared to try something else for fear of failure. Like hanging out on the Titanic as it sinks because you're afraid the life boat is too rickety.

    The key is to get your competitors to agree. And, with more competitors going into content-sharing deals, I think some papers could be persuaded to try it.

    Here's another (stupid) idea: Why not get some of your competitors together and make a new site devoted to Mizzou or KU or whatever? For $20 a month, you get Mizzou coverage from the KC Star, St. Louis P-D, Columbia Tribune and whoever else all in the same place. No clicking around. One stop, all the info I could want. You'd still break news on your paper's site...maybe you make some arrangement on that to protect yourself from scoops. I dunno. Just throwing that out there.
  12. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    Why not do it, start making money, hire away your competitors' best writers and reporters (we know every paper in america has room for staff), thereby forcing them to follow suit? It is capitalism, after all. And if the free stuff sucks, people will buy the good stuff... won't they?
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