By Mark Wachtler
December 6, 2014. New York. (ONN) While fewer and fewer Americans trust Wall Street owned news outlets due to their bias, propaganda and dishonest reporting, more people are turning to the internet and independent grassroots media outlets for their news. After two decades of competition with online outlets, corporate media giants are still having trouble making a profit on the news. And with new media light years ahead of them, will the old media behemoths go the way of the dinosaur?
Americans’ trust in their national media is at a record low of 40%. Image and data courtesy of Gallup.com.
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Gallup released their annual poll two months ago measuring how much the American people trust their country’s news media. The results for 2014 tied for the lowest level of trust since the poll began in 1997. Currently, only 40% of the American people trust the nation’s news media to tell them the truth. That compares to a high of 55% in 1999.
New media beating old media
Rand Media also released a study titled ‘New Media versus Old Media’ in which they compared the benefits and pitfalls of print publishing versus online publishing. What they found was that new media was beating the pants off old media. The main reasons were cheaper distribution online, exponentially more news publishers now, more overall ad slots driving down revenue, and the biggest reason - corporate media outlets are in the news business to make money. Grassroots news outlets are in the news business to report the news.
‘The problem for large publishers is that the dollar they used to get from an audience is now split up into a hundred pennies,’ the authors write, ‘Small publishers are picking up those pennies and new media companies like Google and Facebook are amassing valuable data and picking up the dimes. People aren’t going to read the entire New York Times on a Sunday afternoon anymore. People will gather news from a hundred sources: RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, Google News etc.’
The state of paid content
The reason we at Whiteout Press looked at this subject was because of a recent article published by NEWSCYCLE Solutions. The for-profit news experts specialize in media distribution, advertising, circulation, analytics and basically anything to do with news publishing. The subject of their report was the state of paid content in the news business, especially online. Can grassroots news outlets survive by giving their content away free to readers while large corporate media giants charge a fee? The results show they’re not only surviving, they’re thriving.
What they found after polling 45 news companies from around the world, both large and small, was that 73% of them charge readers a fee to access news content online. Of those, 60% give away a temporary free subscription in hopes that the readers will become paying customers. Those that charge a fee to access all content on their news sites only saw a 20% retention rate among subscribers. While those sites that offered free partial subscriptions said their retention rate was 58%.
Beating the big boys
Among the respondents to the above survey by NEWSCYCLE Solutions, one midsize daily newspaper reported that they just learned the same lesson online grassroots news outlets learned a long time ago - revenue from online advertising is more than revenue from paid subscriptions.
“We took down our paywall because it had a drastic effect on our online advertising revenues,” the publisher of one mid-sized daily newspaper reported, “We traded every dollar in advertising we lost for a nickel in online subscription revenue. Since we took the paywall down, our online impressions have doubled and our online revenue continues to increase by a significant percentage every year. Every market is different, and we are not saying this is the right approach for everyone, but it worked for us.”
Possibly illustrating why corporate news giants don’t seem to have a grasp on what they’re doing when it comes to publishing news on the internet, the survey also discovered that 62% of the news publishers polled don’t even handle their own online revenue streams themselves and instead contract out the management of it to outside vendors.
Whiteout Press responds
Since we at Whiteout Press exist right in the middle of this subject, we thought we’d start by reminding readers they will never have to deal with pop-up windows or self-playing videos on any Whiteout Press webpage, unlike most corporate news sites. Regarding the above discussed ‘state of paid content’, your author added his own thoughts on the subject to the report from NEWSCYCLE Solutions. It read:
It’s nice to see the Wall Street news corporations tripping over themselves trying to figure out how to make billions with online news. Maybe someday they’ll see their problem - the news isn’t a cash cow, it’s more of a public service, and anyone can do it. As long as they keep lying and pushing state-sponsored propaganda and news black-outs, they’ll never be successful.
They don’t have a monopoly, duopoly or tri-opoly like their print and network vehicles did. Online, they’re competing with tens of thousands of honest, independent news outlets like us at Whiteout Press. We care more about reporting the news than making money, and that’s one reason our 2,500% profit margin beats their 10% margins, or less than 0 in some cases.
My prediction for the future is that the 500 major news outlets in the US will eventually embrace the 50,000 indy blogs and news outlets. Instead of publishing/producing for their own small set of subscribers, they’ll start aiming it at the indy news sites and their collective 1 billion subscribers. The first major news outlets to use their news reports like a free wire service for the tens of thousands of smaller blogs/news sites will win.
Right now, many major media corporations are doing the opposite - fighting to keep their news reports locked in a box where only their own small list of paid subscribers can see them. The moral of the story is that the tens of thousands of small, online grassroots news sites aren’t competitors of the 500 corporate-owned major news outlets. The small online sites will turn into their unofficial distribution arm, or ‘channel partners’ as they say in the industry. The sooner they embrace that concept, the sooner they’ll be profitable and leaders in tomorrow’s news world. Just your author’s personal opinion of course…