Chase for revenue slants news focus

|| September 12, 2019

By Michael Crutcher

55 comms CEO

Media outlets have spent much of the past decade looking for their secret sauce: how to get audiences to pay for news.

It's tough because audiences long ago became used to free content – and they still have plenty of free options with the likes of the ABC.

News outlets have themselves to blame, creating a culture in the early days of the internet of free news. The news outlets made their money from their advertisers on traditional platforms. Their online news dealings were experimental.

But that revenue began drying up years ago. Now, digital audiences are a compulsory revenue stream.

So, what stories are going to prompt people to pay for news?

If you're watching closely, you'll be noticing more stories about schools, suburban issues, photo galleries of pets, social gatherings, fast food stores in your local area and the rest.

They’re stories that are generating paying customers and it's because these topics have a greater impact on people's immediate lives.

Perhaps a son or granddaughter plays in one of the school sports teams mentioned on a news website. A reader may be more willing to pay for that than for the State of Origin story that is available widely for free.

If a new shopping centre has been approved for your suburb, you may be prepared to pay to read more because it will impact your immediate neighbourhood. 

A series of social pics from an inner-city gathering may feature one of your best friends. Stories on fast-food restaurants are surprisingly attractive for online transactions - there are several theories for that but none convincing.

Does this all sound familiar?

Do you remember seeing junior sports results with individual names and photos in metropolitan papers a decade or two ago?

Are you thinking that you used to see social pics featuring prominently in newspapers?

Do you remember a smiling face of a schoolmate in the old kids' pages? 

Before social media, these were the original “shares”. That’s where you saw elements of people’s lives.

Social media has claimed that ground with devastating effect for mainstream media outlets.

They’re now trying to steal it back.