Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The four models for paying journalists

I will try to summarize the three main models of paying journalists for the news they bring to the public:

1. Regular Pay: The safest option. Alas, the print advertising money that paid your salary is shrinking under the onslaught of the internet.

The problem is acute enough so that even journalism teachers are starting to question this noble profession.

2. Micropayments: Where your readers pay you on each article read basis. Micropayment was once believed to offer reader and the writer a more flexible option than subscriptions. However, so far, no one has found a hassle free method of making micropayments.

3. Public Support: This method is currently in vogue. Web sites such as Newassignment.net have come up, channelizing outside funding to journalists who want to do investigative reporting.

Although, it appears sound (and noble as well) in nature, the big problem is:
Who gets the money?

Since there can be an indeterminate number of people in any ongoing investigation, proportioning money can be hard. Harder than doing the investigative work itself :-)

4. Advertising: Many journalists (Oma Malik, Rafat Ali) who have left their mainstream media jobs to start their own largely blog-based news sites and blog networks find the ad model appealing.

This is something that they can easily implement - book a domain, set up wordpress, add all the necessary accessories, sign up for Google Adsense, paste the code provided by Google and Voila! You are set.

However, since the ad model is the easiest, it is also the hardest to stand you from the huge crowd.

To succeed using the ad model, you will need to:
Find a profitable niche, develop a unique voice and work hours building and nurturing your target audience - commenting on other blogs, participating on forums etc. It is a long slog.

I am sure there are other models to pay journalists. Please share.

{Note: Model No. 1, the Pay Model is thriving here in India, where the print media is projected to make more money as a booming economy and a young, upwardly mobile demographic means that more Indians have access to reading matter than ever before. More on this, later]

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