A Typical American

May 12, 2009

Journalism 2.1

I was originally going to call this post Journalism 2.0, but decided that a) most major media outlets have already embraced new means of delivering content to its audience and b) someone else probably already used that title, because let’s face it, most people aren’t very original.

To be honest, I’m pretty slow at coming around to blogging, Facebook,  Twitter, videos, audio pod-casts,  providing a sample of my DNA, disclosing my sexual orientation, and providing written directions to my home and how the psycho Internet stalker out there  should proceed to kill me(gunshot directly to head please!).

The idea of utilizing  micro-payments for internet newspapers is nothing new.  I remember watching Walter Isssacson propose the idea months ago on Charlie Rose, and since then, many people have thrown out their ideas on how paying for Internet editions of newspapers should work. I could post links from all sorts of publications on the issue, but frankly, I’m too lazy to do that, and you know how to use a search engine.

While a micro payment system for newspaper content is a great idea , I would think credit card processing fees may be  a practical  problem. The way it has been described so far is on its face: you want to see an article online, you have pay 1 cent, or 5 cents, or whatever.  But  say for example you have individual transactions at 1 cent or 5 cents each. Well, if you tried to charge a credit card for 1 cent, that one cent would go right in the pocket of the credit card processor.  Merchant agreements between processors have fee schedules and 1 cent transactions will cost them 1 cent to process. So simply speaking, that doesn’t work.

What the newspaper will have to do instead, is have an internal credit system, where say you buy packs of 100 article credits for x dollars, are charged x dollars for that credit, and then the credits are deducted as you view articles.   I’d also suggest charging different rates for printing or emailing an article, and simply viewing an article. You always could charge different rates for video or audio content.

Convincing Consumers of all of this: paying for tokens, for something used to be free, is going to be, well, next to impossible.  Newspapers and others, will have to provide enough value added services to make this proposistion digestable for the average consumer.  Something tells me no matter how many newspapers go the micropayment route, at least one or two will push the idea of staying free to compete with the others.

Of course, a payment system is  going to cause a great deal of trouble for the blogging world, which relies on linking to content from newspapers and other journalism outlets.  How will payments affect them?  Depending on context and purpose, people have certain rights to reproduce copyrighted material of course, but how will blogging be affected by having to pay for the the content its linking to, and what steps will newspapers take to protect their property rights that(in the world of mircopayments) now have a more concrete, and specific, value?

I would not be suprised to see this paradigm shift require legislative action. Perhaps not in the short term, as most of the first of things goes uncontested, but when enough of the market goes to a payment model, legal intervention will follow with the possibility of  trips to the supreme court before any new model can really become established and a societal afterthought

What do you think? Please let me know by commenting.


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