Paying for online content

It seems as if the newspaper industry has decided that it is going to die - killed because it got eaten by its online offspring, a brat child that refused to pay its way. No one will pay for online content seems to be the accepted wisdom. Maybe. But perhaps they are offering their readers the wrong thing - an outdated package. Maybe they are failing to use the online medium properly and missing a huge opportunity.

Take the Times. Their app is a beautiful thing: convenient, slick, readable and inexpensive. So what's not to like? Well the first thing is that you can't buy a single edition - you have to buy a subscription for a month. And that is a calendar month, so if you know you are not going to want it for the next two weeks you are paying for it anyway. You can pass a newsagent and get a single copy but you can't do that online.

Let's take this logic further. Maybe you don't want to read the whole newspaper but only some sport articles, a leader or two and an opinion piece. Why can't you buy individual articles? If the online subscription is paid through iTunes why not individual articles? Pricing? 5p a pop? At a level anyway that makes it as inconsequential as a cup of coffee.

The world has moved on. In the same way we don't necessarily want to buy a package of music in the form of an album any more, nor do we necessarily want to buy a package of journalism. We still want good writing and readers are prepared to pay for it - just not in the format currently on offer.

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