Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Problems with the pay-per-view model in Journalism

I agree when Nicholas Carr says ‘Pay-per-view journalism’ is inevitable. However, I have been thinking about the deep effects ‘Pay-per-view journalism' may have on the whole news publishing business.

Blog Networks, led by Gawker and WebslogsInc have long used this model to compensate their bloggers. However, I am still not sure whether bloggers are not paid an assured sum at the end of the month.

Now, mainstream news sites such as are following suit.

I also agree when Nick says that ‘Pay-per-view journalism’ brings the compensation model in line with the online content model where every story has the power to have a life of its own – ratings, comments, trackbacks, updates, comments on comments, so on and so forth.

‘Pay-per-view journalism’ may be okay when established media names follow it. Zdnet is an established name. I would be surprised if my friend’s brand new technology blog network followed this model.

Although one is attracted to the idea of ' one who gets most clicks, gets to write', still, you can’t expect to start a brand new news site and pay writers on ‘pay-per-view/trackbacks/links earned/or, whatever’ basis.

One good story does not build stickiness. For repeat visits, you need consistency. For consistency, writers must post good stories over a long period for the Google effect, Pagerank and others to push the product along. That takes time and money.

Agreed that online media startup costs are less than 1/10 of print startup cost but costs are costs and new fancy models such as ‘pay-per-view’ may be implemented only when the business is settled.

Then there is the ethics issue.
When you tell a journalist that her job is also to bring in traffic, what’s there to stop her from treading a Grey line? For example, she may write a puff piece on a new product launch, disillusioned that she has become.

For those who point out that Gawker utilized the ‘pay-per-view’ model, May I remind you to take a look at the topics that Gawker covers? Scandal, DIY, Gadgets – that’s where pay-per-view thrives. My article on the Burma issue will not even send a blip on the ‘pay-per-view’ screen.

I hear that porn and sports are the champions in the ‘pay-per-view’ video business. Viva journalism.


At 4:03 AM , Blogger David said...

All good points: especially the ethical problems that journalists might face if they are trying to grab page views instead of good solid content. As I put it at "What happens to the quality of content if journalists are just looking for the quick buck? If success is measured by page-views what happens to the tried-and-true journalist that wants to be informative, accurate and unfortunately — sometimes boring?"

At 5:06 PM , Blogger Pramit Singh said...

True, David.

Didn't someone said that Pageviews are obsolete? I wonder what the publishers will say about that?


At 10:56 PM , Blogger prince said...

Have you seen the new India search engine they added all the cool features of popular products like
MySpace, YouTube, Ebay, Craigslist, etc. all for free to use and specifically for India. Anyone else try this yet? First to Blend Search,
Social Network, Video Sharing and Auctions Into One Seamless Product for Indian Internet Users.

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