Mielenkiintoinen ajatus tämä: Tulevaisuuden uutisbisnes löytyy niukkuuksista. Kun itse uutisista on ylitarjontaa. Antaas sijoittajan selittää:
The Future Of News Is Scarcity
The newspaper industry operated as an effective oligopoly and the value of the news itself was impossible to pick out from the bundle of hard copy distribution, advertising and content that we all purchased.
Fast forward to 2009 and the situation looks very different – all of a sudden, there is choice and the bundle has been picked apart. And, to make matters worse, the industry is possibly more exposed than any other to the trend towards $0 pricing for online content.
As Chris Anderson argues in his seminal book on this topic Free, The Future Of A Radical Price, the answer to this conundrum is not to swim against the tide and find a way to start charging for news, but, rather, to understand what is becoming commoditized and abundant, and what new scarcities are created as a result. In the book, Chris points out that, when he was young, food was scarce and the main problem of poverty was hunger, but now food has become so cheap and abundant that the biggest problem of poverty is obesity. The new scarcity is health, spawning huge industries in diet food and health services.
In the news industry, it is the news itself that has become abundant. Making a trip to the corner shop and buying a paper to find out what is happening in the world has shifted from being the only option to being the least good of a thousand options. I prefer to check Techmeme and Twitter, but there is the choice of thousands of other sites, aggregators and services that can deliver to your desktop or mobile. Moreover, there is no exclusivity in news per se – getting the headline from one place is pretty much equivalent to getting it from another.
The good news is that every abundance creates new scarcities and this is where the news industry must go to make money in the 21st century. The scarcities created (and enabled) by abundant news are interesting stories, thought provoking analysis, conversation and community, and trust/verification.
Interesting stories go beyond simple reporting of what has occurred, bringing in relevant context and staying with a topic as it unfolds. Thought provoking analysis will dare to shock, and to be wrong. Conversation and community will both make the experience richer for the active participant and improve the quality of the content on the site for more casual reader. Trust and verification will make you go back to one site rather than another as you know the stories there will be more accurate (note breaking news should be published first and verified second, with appropriate caveats).
The successful news company of the future will have to take all this on board and deliver it with a radically lower cost base than this industry is used to. In the digital world, the news industry, like many others, will be radically smaller. This contraction is partly a consequence of much reduced distribution costs, but is also a reflection of the fact that the monopoly rents Fleet Street enjoyed in the last century are a thing of the past. Witness how Craigslist has reduced the multi-billion dollar classifieds industry to nearer $100 million.
Companies that follow the blueprint above are emerging already, most notably TechCrunch for technology news, Talking Points Memo, FiveThirtyEight and The Huffington Post for politics, PerezHilton for celebrity, and Pitchfork for music. These niche sites all write compelling content, spend time building up their sources, check their facts, encourage writers to find the real facts behind stories and are trusted by their readers. And, they all generate solid advertising revenues and benefit from relatively low cost bases.
Note that none of them charge for news. They do, however, have the option of leveraging their standing in the community to generate other revenues. TechCrunch runs the TC50 conference, Pitchfork organizes the Pitchfork Music Conference and Perez Hilton charges for personal appearances. This is, I think, the real business model for news companies in the future – build a community around news and stories and maybe make a little in advertising, but the real money will come from leveraging the position in the community to offer services no one else can.