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The internet as a business model - what's an internetter to do?

the megsterthe megster Registered User
edited December 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
This morning I read an article in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/business/media/28paywall.html?8dpc=&_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1262019814-JF/JwUjkPujnxxdtRXTBMA).

It included the following quote: "Newspapers, including this one, are weighing whether to ask online readers to pay for at least some of what they offer...Indeed, in the next several weeks, industry executives and analysts expect some publications to take the plunge."

The article goes on to detail how media outlets are hurting as we have moved towards file-sharing and advertising revenue has dropped. It includes several quotes on how "Quality content is not free" (thanks Mr. Murdoch) and "this free ride is drawing to a close."

This is my question, and maybe I'm way off - but am I not already paying? The internet costs me $60 every month that I pay for it...so what's up with this business model? And why does everyone keep saying that the internet is "free?"

And are you all going to be willing to pay $ for internet access, and then on top of that, also pay to surf each individual media outlet?

the megster on

Posts

  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    How to make money on the internet: deliver the best content available.

    Needless to say, the dinosaurs do not do this.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    ......you pay 60 dollars to your internet provider.

    That's like thinking paying your phone bill entitles you to call up you phone company and have them relay the news to you.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It is a possibility that high-quality investigative journalism is simply unprofitable.

    Hachface on
  • the megsterthe megster Registered User
    edited December 2009
    I think that's a bit apples and oranges. The whole point of having a phone plan is that my flat fee covers a certain amount of calls, and most cellphone providers are going towards unlimited plans. In this case, I realize that my $60 pays for access to the internet, but access to what?

    What is the business model that is going to work for the internet? How far does my $60 go? If I honestly had to pay to surf many of the websites that I currently peruse, I think I'd go broke...

    the megster on
  • the megsterthe megster Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It is a possibility that high-quality investigative journalism is simply unprofitable.

    Then like many of the other unprofitable or ungodly-expensive industries in this country (transportation infrastructure, arts) maybe the government should subsidize it?

    the megster on
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    This is my question, and maybe I'm way off - but am I not already paying? The internet costs me $60 every month that I pay for it...so what's up with this business model? And why does everyone keep saying that the internet is "free?"

    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    Basically, I see this failing horribly, just as it did the last time NYT tried it. The fact is that there are enough other sources of news that Murdoch can't really get away with charging for it on his site; people will just read some other online paper that's free/ad-supported.

    Daedalus on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I think that's a bit apples and oranges. The whole point of having a phone plan is that my flat fee covers a certain amount of calls, and most cellphone providers are going towards unlimited plans. In this case, I realize that my $60 pays for access to the internet, but access to what?

    What is the business model that is going to work for the internet? How far does my $60 go? If I honestly had to pay to surf many of the websites that I currently peruse, I think I'd go broke...
    You pay for access to whatever anybody else is willing to pay to put out for access on the internet.

    There is no company that runs "the internet" that is responsible for providing you with $60 worth of content each month.

    I also find this a funny question to be asking on an entirely ad supported site. Your answer is staring you in the face.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    net.neutrality.chart.crop.jpg

    To some extent.

    It tends to be more of a question of what restrictions, if any, are placed on businesses based on what/how they are able to provide and sell "services".

    Is there a need for a more integrated model for ISPs? Is the answer to look closer at profit-sharing, or simply to attach an arbitrary price tag to information.

    This doesn't even begin to look into the "failure" of early digital distribution, and the "can't stop the signal" issues of digital goods being pirated, which skews ideas such as these.

    The Crowing One on
    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • the megsterthe megster Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    But that's what I'm wondering - is there a business model that works for the internet where folks get enough of what they need to keep going and be slightly profitable? Or is the only hope government subsidization?

    the megster on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    This is my question, and maybe I'm way off - but am I not already paying? The internet costs me $60 every month that I pay for it...so what's up with this business model? And why does everyone keep saying that the internet is "free?"

    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    Basically, I see this failing horribly, just as it did the last time NYT tried it. The fact is that there are enough other sources of news that Murdoch can't really get away with charging for it on his site; people will just read some other online paper that's free/ad-supported.

    Yea, "scoops" at this stage are a matter of minutes, not a publishing day. Never mind that within moments of you publishing something it's going to get echoed elsewhere, at least if it's actually interesting. Using information as a resource that derives it's value from scarcity isn't going to work well unless that information is very technical in nature.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    But that's what I'm wondering - is there a business model that works for the internet where folks get enough of what they need to keep going and be slightly profitable? Or is the only hope government subsidization?

    head_left.gif

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It is a possibility that high-quality investigative journalism is simply unprofitable.

    Then like many of the other unprofitable or ungodly-expensive industries in this country (transportation infrastructure, arts) maybe the government should subsidize it?

    This is a really hard question to answer.

    It seems obvious that reliance on government funding would present conflicts of interest for any journalist covering anything the government does. Yet PBS and NPR are funded in part through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the quality of their reporting is remarkably higher than their private media counterparts. For all their freedom from governmental assistance, the journalists -- especially the telejournalists -- working for for-profit media conglomerates have been strikingly complicit in going along with all of the government's worst ideas, most notably the war in Iraq. Meanwhile, by way of further counterexample to the notion that government subsidy would erode objectivity, there is the BBC, one of the most respected media outfits in the world, funded mainly by a television license fee levied by the British government.

    So I guess I am leaning toward public subsidies for journalism.

    Hachface on
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    But that's what I'm wondering - is there a business model that works for the internet where folks get enough of what they need to keep going and be slightly profitable? Or is the only hope government subsidization?

    Deliver quality content. It's going to be more niche based than massive media conglomerate though, probably. For example, this very site makes a pretty solid living for Mike and Jerry because they provide content that a lot of people appreciate.

    Another example is this place. Delivers the best information on Michigan football that anyone on the net does, all content is free, and he's been able to quit his job and do just that. Now he even has a couple other guys working for him, appears on local sports radio all the time, and gets cited by ESPN sometimes.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It is a possibility that high-quality investigative journalism is simply unprofitable.

    I would frame this rather as a possibility that it is on the whole detrimental to society for profit-motive to drive journalism. I have no doubt that there is some method by which the status quo could be extended into the internet age; I just doubt that the outcome is actually desirable.

    Of course, handing the reins to the government is way, way worse. The future I'd like to see takes advantage of distributed moderation to make a truly decentralized system as trustworthy (okay, hopefully more trustworthy) as what we have today. Think Digg, except instead of assessing the relative hilarity of Cracked articles, assessing the relative journalistic integrity of bloggers.

    Newspapers need to change or die. Television journalism needs to die, in a fire, and the ashes must be launched into orbit like they do with dead rich people.

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Of course, handing the reins to the government is way, way worse.

    I agree with the spirit of your post, and then we get to something like this.

    It's already been brought up that organizations like NPR and the BBC have immense integrity and are funded through government subsidies.

    More to the point, a single sentence as above is just such bullcrap. Government and private industry are no different when it comes to "efficiency", etc. This is some weird myth. Private corporations screw up just as much as anyone else.

    The Crowing One on
    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    But that's what I'm wondering - is there a business model that works for the internet where folks get enough of what they need to keep going and be slightly profitable? Or is the only hope government subsidization?

    It's called advertising, and it works pretty well for most people. The issue really is that internet advertising has driven down the price of advertising in general, and newspapers are used to getting more money than they currently are. Take classifieds, for instance; it used to be that newspapers could charge crazy prices per word for these; it was the most profitable part of the paper. Now, there's Craigslist, where most classifieds are free, so the newspapers are getting way less money from them.

    But that's just the way the world works; supply of ad space went up and so the price went down.

    Daedalus on
  • the megsterthe megster Registered User
    edited December 2009
    Not to mention the business model of an entity like NPR is a mix of government funding and public donations. I donate $10 every month to NPR because they're non-profit. I don't see myself donating to Mr. Murdoch.

    So the business model for for-profit investigative journalism on the internet needs to look different. But honestly, I don't know if I'm willing to pay the NYtimes to surf it online...

    the megster on
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    The only thing I lost when NYT tried to pull that pay-for-content bullshit last time was Paul Krugman's column. That the only thing a 'newspaper' had to draw a news junkie like me in was an opinion column speaks volumes about most of the 'news' they offer.

    Deebaser on
    YOLO. Swag. Whatever. Fuck it. Lets do this.
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Of course, handing the reins to the government is way, way worse.

    I agree with the spirit of your post, and then we get to something like this.

    It's already been brought up that organizations like NPR and the BBC have immense integrity and are funded through government subsidies.

    More to the point, a single sentence as above is just such bullcrap. Government and private industry are no different when it comes to "efficiency", etc. This is some weird myth. Private corporations screw up just as much as anyone else.

    Well, anytime I read the words "state-run news agency," with the notable exception of BBC, NPR, etc (who compete with non-state news sources) I translate to "state propaganda machine." I don't think this is controversial. And the BBC has a few skeletons in the closet, though I'm sure they've shaped up in the last half-century.

    Perhaps proper regulation could guarantee a news organization sufficient journalistic independence despite the source of its funding; certainly, though, there would always be both the motive and means for abuse to take place. It's easier to argue that there's a problem with the present system of profit-focused media than to show that there's less of a problem with state-run media. Sufficiently so that I won't bother to make that argument, when it's my position that the need for any organization on the scale of current media outlets disappeared ten years ago.

    I've as much contempt for the market-worshipers as the next PA poster, have no fear. I also have a strong anti-authoritarian streak which, despite my populist sympathies, I extend to government and corporation equally.

    EDIT: in summation, "way, way worse" is indeed an oversimplification, as you rightly point out. I simply don't give a shit, because whether it's merely "worse" or "the same" or even "slightly better," I don't think that news should be distributed by large organizations at all. So the dispute over whether those large organizations ought to be funded by government or seek profit in the market just doesn't interest me.

    Now, some kind of endowment for individual journalists who break important stories, handed out on the basis of a distributed-moderation system... that would be a wonderful thing for the government to do. It's not really "taking the reins" as I was imagining before, though.

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Daedalus wrote: »
    The NYT doesn't get any of that, though; that just goes to your ISP to pay for construction and maintenance and so forth.

    But that's what I'm wondering - is there a business model that works for the internet where folks get enough of what they need to keep going and be slightly profitable? Or is the only hope government subsidization?

    Deliver quality content. It's going to be more niche based than massive media conglomerate though, probably. For example, this very site makes a pretty solid living for Mike and Jerry because they provide content that a lot of people appreciate.

    Another example is this place. Delivers the best information on Michigan football that anyone on the net does, all content is free, and he's been able to quit his job and do just that. Now he even has a couple other guys working for him, appears on local sports radio all the time, and gets cited by ESPN sometimes.

    More importantly, they won't run ads that suck.

    Too many newspapers try to lean on Adsense or other ad networks and get the kind of returns you'd expect when people aren't going there for the ads. I don't think I've ever seen a good ad on a newspaper website.

    I actually click PA's ads because they're relevant and well-done. They've got cartoonists they could hire to make ads. They get to charge more and provide better returns for their ad clients.

    MKR on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    Hachface on
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    Heh, it's always funny to stumble uninformed into a topic and come up with an idea that has already been implemented:
    proper regulation could guarantee a news organization sufficient journalistic independence despite the source of its funding

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It is a possibility that high-quality investigative journalism is simply unprofitable.

    Then like many of the other unprofitable or ungodly-expensive industries in this country (transportation infrastructure, arts) maybe the government should subsidize it?
    I'm personally hoping for more of the Wikipedia model. Which is actually the University model. Privately funded foundations that nevertheless ensure near-complete autonomy to the thing they hold up.

    Qingu on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    But see, NPR, PBS and BBC are all horribly biased towards liberals. I mean, they insist on reporting even on the news that makes conservatives look bad, unlike the good news organizations that just parrot whatever talking points put out by the GOP. This sort of reckless adherence to truth and accuracy is the unavoidable upshot to trying to divorce the news from a strict profit-driven model.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    But see, NPR, PBS and BBC are all horribly biased towards liberals. I mean, they insist on reporting even on the news that makes conservatives look bad, unlike the good news organizations that just parrot whatever talking points put out by the GOP. This sort of reckless adherence to truth and accuracy is the unavoidable upshot to trying to divorce the news from a strict profit-driven model.

    Reality has a liberal bias, and therefore any good conservative should ignore it without secondary confirmation from an impartial source like Fox.

    nescientist on
    Carl Sagan wrote:
    The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    But see, NPR, PBS and BBC are all horribly biased towards liberals. I mean, they insist on reporting even on the news that makes conservatives look bad, unlike the good news organizations that just parrot whatever talking points put out by the GOP. This sort of reckless adherence to truth and accuracy is the unavoidable upshot to trying to divorce the news from a strict profit-driven model.

    Look at yourself, ElJeffe. Look at what you've become!

    Hachface on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    But see, NPR, PBS and BBC are all horribly biased towards liberals. I mean, they insist on reporting even on the news that makes conservatives look bad, unlike the good news organizations that just parrot whatever talking points put out by the GOP. This sort of reckless adherence to truth and accuracy is the unavoidable upshot to trying to divorce the news from a strict profit-driven model.

    Look at yourself, ElJeffe. Look at what you've become!

    NOOOOOOOOOO

    I don't think I've ever had much of a problem with NPR as a news provider, though I still think some of their non-news shows are a bit left-leaning. But whatever. The private news sites are shitty regardless of bias, though. I don't think CNN, for example, is terribly right-leaning or left-leaning. I think it's stupid-leaning and sensationalism-leaning and lazy as fuck.

    I don't believe that you can have a completely profit-driven news provider that maintains any degree of quality, because lazy sensationalism and over-simplification and fake-controversy are more profitable than good reporting. And I say this as a big free-market proponent.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    It should be noted that, while NPR, PBS, and the BBC are all at least partially funded by the government, none of them can be considered "state run." In the U.S., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a semi-governmental organization that provides funding to public broadcasters, who are themselves private nonprofit entities. No employee of any NPR or PBS affiliate station is an employee of the government. It's a bit of a bureaucratic patchwork, but these bureaucratic walls provide important content barriers between the government and the media outlets it subsidizes.

    But see, NPR, PBS and BBC are all horribly biased towards liberals. I mean, they insist on reporting even on the news that makes conservatives look bad, unlike the good news organizations that just parrot whatever talking points put out by the GOP. This sort of reckless adherence to truth and accuracy is the unavoidable upshot to trying to divorce the news from a strict profit-driven model.

    Look at yourself, ElJeffe. Look at what you've become!

    NOOOOOOOOOO

    I don't think I've ever had much of a problem with NPR as a news provider, though I still think some of their non-news shows are a bit left-leaning. But whatever. The private news sites are shitty regardless of bias, though. I don't think CNN, for example, is terribly right-leaning or left-leaning. I think it's stupid-leaning and sensationalism-leaning and lazy as fuck.

    I don't believe that you can have a completely profit-driven news provider that maintains any degree of quality, because lazy sensationalism and over-simplification and fake-controversy are more profitable than good reporting. And I say this as a big free-market proponent.

    This is where non-profits are awesome.

    Seriously, run it like a business and provide a service/product that is desired in society. When you eliminate the need for profit margins you suddenly find a more rational and down-to-earth service.

    The Crowing One on
    3rddocbottom.jpg
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    I do think that even a Corporation for Public Broadcasting model has its dangers. For one, it exists according to the beneficence of the government, which puts it in a perilous position. Politicians (Republicans mostly, it must be admitted) are constantly threatening to cut funding to public broadcasting. Most recently, there was conservative outrage because some PBS television show for kids had the unmitigated gall to depict a pair of lesbian moms.

    Hachface on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited December 2009
    Hachface wrote: »
    I do think that even a Corporation for Public Broadcasting model has its dangers. For one, it exists according to the beneficence of the government, which puts it in a perilous position. Politicians (Republicans mostly, it must be admitted) are constantly threatening to cut funding to public broadcasting. Most recently, there was conservative outrage because some PBS television show for kids had the unmitigated gall to depict a pair of lesbian moms.

    This can work well, though. If it's partly government-funded and partly privately-funded, then you have the luxury of targeting the more niche audience of people-who-like-quality-news with the security of government dollars backing you up. And you can whether both variations in donations/revenue and variations in taxpayer dollars more ably, since neither of them are your sole revenue stream.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
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