von Mercedes Bunz, 20.7.10
When I opened my obligatory RSS reader yesterday morning, I found several articles focussing on the state of online journalism today. Well, that’s what you expect, isn’t it? The interesting thing: They all focussed on different aspects.
At the media blog Beehivecity former Times media correspondent Dan Sabbagh reported a rather low number of 15,000 paying after paywall subscribers. The iPad customers that bought the Times separate app, on the contrary, is rather impressive with 12.500 customers. This is causing Sabbagh to ask an interesting question: Will the future of newspapers like the future of the music industry: an Apple dominated digital paid-for business and an internet-free-for-all in which nobody pays?
If you look at the tremendous success of the Daily Mail you see quite a different picture. Last year still head to head with its competitors the Guardian and the Telegraph, it has a commanding lead by now. With 16 million unique browsers in the UK, 26.3 million in the rest of the world it begins to hint at a different league, reports Peter Preston for the Guardian, calculating roughly that advertising can bring in a round £20m to turn Mail red ink into deep black.
Interesting that the Mail not only runs newsroom operations totally separately, but also is a “different beast” not playing print’s little brother:
“The online market, like the print market, is beginning to set different rules for itself, to insist that quality and redtop and celeb can define different pitches (and appeals to advertisers) just as they do in the land of dead forests.”
Meanwhile, the NYTimes takes the working conditions of online journalists into account asking if online-journalism became the new assembly line. Instead of scoops these journalists are hunting down to enter the charts of the most-viewed articles with Bloomberg News andGawker Media paying writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles, editors checking upon how many articles journalists are writing a day.
Online journalism is a genre that is still making its way by walking it. Each brand has to re-invent itself anew in a digital environment. This is confusing, as well as challenging and exciting. One thing is certain, it is our future.
By now we know that producing online first was just the beginning as publishers also have to take a journalism into account that focusses on the long tail. Here, new forms have to be found quickly at least if we don’t want to give our traditional definatory power over contemporary history away to the likes of Demand Media.
Furthermore, the recent success of the iPad also showed that we have to understand our readership not anymore only in terms of target group, but also alongside reading situations.
Confusing, challenging and exciting, indeed. But well. We didn’t became journalists to sit back and relax, didn’t we?