viernes, 9 de enero de 2009

Boletín de última hora: encuentren un nuevo modelo de negocios

Desde la escuela de negocios Wharton viene este ensayo sobre la necesidad de que la industria de los periódicos encuentre un nuevo modelo de negocios; entre los posibles, cita:
"The Philanthropic Route: Wharton business and public policy professor Joel Waldfogel has researched the impact of news media on society and fears that a decline in serious reporting about public affairs will harm our democracy. Of course, that reporting, especially at the local level, is precisely the sort of expensive undertaking that cash-strapped news firms have often slashed as unprofitable. Waldfogel notes that in Minneapolis, San Diego and a number of other cities, laid-off newspaper staffers have turned to charitable sources to underwrite reporting for new online ventures. "We subsidized the healthy vegetables with the red meat," Waldfogel said of the old newspaper model, where many readers would buy the paper for late sports scores, enabling important public interest reporting in the process. "Now there's been this decoupling. It's really hard to support the broccoli at all."
The Niche Route: Forget Capitol Hill. Forget the State House. Maybe even forget City Hall. Steve Ennen, managing director of the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative, says one key to success is to provide news and information for the most local of levels. "I'm talking block-to-block," says Ennen, citing localized web presences that have proved successful in Europe and Latin America. The problem with devoting your own resources to covering popular topics like Hollywood or national politics is that someone else is also doing so -- in the process, swiping your readers. A news business that gets down to the nitty-gritty, though, can quickly have the field to itself. The same goes for other niches, from ideologies to narrow interests ranging from news about pets to the latest on Pakistan. Waldfogel predicts the online news market will eventually look like the politically polarized newspaper market of a century ago, before monopoly status encouraged most publications to seek middle ground.
The Pay Route: The New York Times famously cancelled its policy of keeping parts of its web site off-limits to non-subscribers. But Wharton marketing professor Eric Bradlow, co-director of the Wharton Interactive Media Initiative, says subscriber strategies aren't always doomed. Companies from Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, to any number of small trade magazines that offer highly specialized information to affluent subscribers manage to keep content behind a for-pay firewall, defying the conventional wisdom about an Internet audience that demands freebies. The key is a degree of specialization, whether by locality or by subject matter, that the traditional general-interest paper didn't deliver. Newspapers could, Bradlow suggests, "release partial information or certain stories through e-mail or other media as a way to get traction and then drive people towards the web site, which could be a pay model. It's a classic, 'we're going to give some stuff away for free model.'" Bradlow notes that pay satellite radio has flourished despite the availability of free AM and FM radio and the ubiquity of iPods.
The Participation Route: One way the Internet differs most dramatically from print is readers' expectations of being able to interact with one another -- and with the source of the information. But this contrasts with the traditional newspaper idea that content, even content that is labeled "opinion," is produced by professionals with specific training and standards. Wharton management professor Lawrence Hrebiniak says that's something news companies are going to have to get over as they transition to an online existence. "Newshounds are looking for interactivity," he says. "Whatever gives him or her a chance to say something, to have an opinion, even if 90% of it is self-serving, it works."
The Commercial Route: Fader, like most observers of the media business, says survival online will require rethinking basic values about things like bias, opinion and, especially, advertising. As an example, he cites book reviews. At most newspapers, book sections have been killed off for lack of profits. But Americans still consume book reviews in large quantities: It's just that they do so on, where readers' sometimes-withering opinions about books for sale are included on the page. "Where a lot of people go to find 'journalism' is on commercial sites," he says. "They go and read the reviews and ratings on Amazon.... It's going to be a tough struggle and very few newspapers as we knew them yesterday will exist in five years. Those that [survive] will do so by getting off their high horse and doing things that would have been commercial heresy. Imagine a New York Times book review with a link to Amazon."

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