The Guardian is begging for your money
Last week, as I was searching for which art galleries to visit in Mumbai(I swear I wasn’t stoned), an article from the Guardian was the most promising result. As I was reading through the article, I saw this-
I double-checked if this was a phishing scam. Turns out no-the 196 year old British newspaper, The Guardian is actually asking its readers to make a contribution. Well, not all it’s readers, certainly not some poor countries like India or Spain.( #boycott Guard-unindian)
Not just this, The Guardian has also decided to stop publishing on Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles. The CEO of the Guardian Media Group, David Pamsel tells us that this is due to-
“The economics financially for us were woeful. It was an attempt to try to find some equitable return for us for our journalism and it didn’t succeed, at all. So now we will keep pushing Facebook to come up with new ideas”
This fate is not limited to just the Guardian. John Oliver’s take on Journalism provides an in-depth explanation of what’s happening to the industry as a whole.
- Print is dying- The existing business model of subscription fee and print ads was completely destroyed with decreasing subscriber base and lower CPM’s for Print ads. That meant publications had nowhere to go but move to a digital online presence.
2. Online means free- When media houses went online, they realized that people expected everything to be free online. Customers believe that if they can watch cute cat videos on Facebook for free, why should news be any different. News media firms found it exponentially harder to sign-up customers for digital subscriptions.
3. Click-bait yields revenue- Publications had to rely on Third party revenue through sponsored click-ads or sponsored content. Sponsored content works if there are more viewers who come to your site and mistakenly click on the most irritating ads you ever encounter.
The News Industry is being disrupted. Or more like decimated. And no one knows what to do. This chicken headed behavior of the existing media giants has given way for a lot of cool startups to become insanely huge with powerful stories and critical reporting.
Fine, I was kidding. But there are startups trying to dig out from this sludge of click-bait and actually make way for good reporting. Look no further than the Ken
The Ken is currently priced at Rs 300 per month and is one of the few magazines that have approached a paywall-content approach. Most digital media startups (Scoopwhoop, Upworthy, Buzzfeed, MensXP, PopXo, Yourstory, TVF) unfortunately are trying to follow the Branded content route.
In my belief, journalism that is aided by click-bait and sponsored content will cease to remain journalistic. How can a firm that gets its revenues through more clicks promise that they are being independent while reporting.
They use data to figure out what stories work, what title will get more users to view the article, and what emotion plays the best for their audience.
I personally hope that the business model for news media houses will be more transparent and continue to have the same journalistic integrity our print news has had. I hope that consumers understand the importance of unbiased news reporting and start subscribing to digital news outlets. Let’s allow reporters to do what they are best at, writing articles and not brainstorming for viral hashtags.