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Funding Journalism in the Digital Age

Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends

Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn

The news media play a vital role in keeping the public informed and maintaining democratic processes. But that essential function has come under threat as emerging technologies and changing social trends, sped up by global economic turmoil, have disrupted traditional business models and practices, creating a financial crisis. Quality journalism is expensive to produce – so how will it survive as current sources of revenue shrink? Funding Journalism in the Digital Age not only explores the current challenges, but also provides a comprehensive look at business models and strategies that could sustain the news industry as it makes the transition from print and broadcast distribution to primarily digital platforms. The authors bring widespread international journalism experience to provide a global perspective on how news organizations are evolving, investigating innovative commercial projects in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Norway, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.

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11 E-commerce and engagement – converting users into paying customers

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Summary One of the biggest commercial problems facing news organizations in the digital age is their limited ability to form a direct transactional relationship with their users. Major newspapers may count their online visitors in the millions – but who are those users? The vast number of “uniques” driven to free news sites by search engines and aggregators are proving to be of limited value to advertisers. So how can anonymous users be converted to paying customers? This chapter looks at ways to form commercial connections. As the news industry struggles to stay afloat in the digital age, it’s important to keep in mind that the digital age is good for business. New kinds of enterprises, such as search engines, have emerged and many mature businesses are under going renewal through increased productivity and efficiency. UK supermarket giant Tesco has made hundreds of millions of pounds in profit with a service that melds the old-fashioned notion of home delivery with the ease and efficiency of online ordering. Of course, the emergence of new business models has been painful for those working in outdated models such as travel agencies, record stores and cam- era film manufacturing. In the news business, the product – news – has been improved in all sorts of ways. There are better and more plentiful ways to tell stories. News consumers can get information faster and in more convenient forms than in the past. The list goes on. But journalism has not made the great commercial leap forward, despite the...

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