Today, I attended the New Economic Models for News Conference that was put on by the Minnesota Journalism Center. I was excited to gain new insights from professionals in the industry and hear about what’s working and what’s not. I mostly heard about the same old and much about any “new” models.
For the most part many of the speakers, some of whom were publishers and traditional newspaper folks, complained about Google stealing ad revenue as well as other such aggregators – though Joel Kramer, the founder of Minnpost.com, pointed out that 30 percent of their traffic comes from Google. I know that some websites are likely even more than that.
The most interesting idea, though I had heard it proposed before, came from Bernie Lunzer from the Newspaper Guild and John Sturm of the Newspaper Association of America. Both proposed the idea that news sites should provide a “one-stop shop” for local business not only to advertise but also sell their products. This is an interesting concept that I think is worth exploring, and may have some potential for small businesses who cannot afford to host their own website. The news organization could then make a commission from each item sold on their site.
I will clarify that I don’t think the absence of new ideas is reflective of the reality of the industry in approaching new economic models. Most publishers or editors are just too secretive with their new plans to share. For example, when I asked the keynote speaker, David Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post- Gazette as to what new approaches his paper was taking or experimenting with to get new revenue, he said that I would see them implemented this fall, showing an unwillingness to share. So why do we as journalists get together to talk about such things when many who have ideas are reluctant to share? I think it’s time we collaborate and figure this out.
To view posts and comments via Twitter from attendees, see the live stream here.