The paid-content model, a vital lifeline for journalism in the medium term?

The paid-content model, a vital lifeline for journalism in the medium term?
Photo: Esther Vargas (Clases de Periodismo).
Photo: Esther Vargas (Clases de Periodismo).

It is the eternal debate since the transition from the paper press to the digital environment began: What will be the business model that could sustain journalism in the coming decades? And even more, being more specific, will it allow to stop the personnel reduction in the newsrooms? This is an advice to all the teachers who may be reading this: ask these two questions to your degree students on the first day of the first year of the course.

It's the 'clickbait' time (even when the mass media condemn it) and of constant fight so that the advertising revenue does not sink. In that sense, and as Pere Rusiñol, an associate and editor of 'Mongolia' magazine, stated in the last Congress of Digital Journalism in Huesca, "in 2016, the revenues of the media for digital advertising fell for the first time."

So, where we should set the sights to balance the accounts? In Opennemas we see several examples to follow in Great Britain and also on the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States. It's true that newspapers as The Guardian or The Washington Post already show muscle with its name, but its strategies to get subscribers in this days of 'fake news' have been one of the good news that left the past 2016. This year, this route points to a continuity.

Let's go to the numbers. From 15,000 to 200,000 subscribers passed the 'Guardian' in 2016, as it was collected by Digiday. However, it not only impresses this growth in that period. Also the fact that the readers assumed to pay for reading the information without receiving extra content in return. "They registered because they believe it is important for 'Guardian' journalism to go forward," said David Magliano, the paper's chief executive.

In the United States, with Trump in an open war against the media, the 'New York Times' and 'Post' have found a correct way. At least for the moment. New Yorkers had at the end of 2016 1,85 million subscribers, 45% more than their balance at the end of 2015. The Bezos and Baron journal alluded to a 145% increase in subscriptions during the past campaign, without giving more specific data.

Is this pattern applicable to smaller media and even micromedia? It is more debatable, because in a certain part would also depend on the willingness of the readers themselves. In a way, reversing the trend when you have accustomed your audience to free content is very complicated, so much also goes through an awareness from the media to the outside.

Oh, and remember! If you are going to found or have already created your own newspaper with Opennemas, you have at your disposal a specific module for subscriptions that you can consult here. Do you want to try it? Get in contact with us!

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