May the luck of the Irish be with…its newspaper industry

Posted: May 20, 2013 in New revenue models
Tags: , ,

The newspaper industry is changing around the world, as readers migrate from reading a printed product to consuming the news on their mobile, desktop or tablet. This shift has dealt newspaper owners with the task of  working with the demand for digital news while keeping a healthy profit margin. What threatens profits is the fact that revenue from digital advertising does not bring in the same revenue that print advertising brought in during previous years. The industry has had to develop new revenue models in order to survive. An example of a new revenue model established by some newspaper organizations is the paywall, where readers are charged for access to online news content.

What other new revenue models can help the industry?

On Digg, I found an intriguing article from McGarr Solicitors in Ireland that showed a new revenue model for the newspaper industry that I have never seen before. It could be called revolutionary by some, or protectionist by others. What caught my attention was the controversy that surrounds the model. The Irish newspaper industry is demanding that links to news stories from their websites belonged to them, and that ” … they had the right to set the rates for those links…” should they be used by others. Further, the industry is pushing for unauthorized linking to be declared illegal. McGarr’s article shows an example where a women’s charity was advised to purchase a licence for a newspaper link it made on its website. It’s worth mentioning that the link was to a story that spoke of some of the positive work the charity group had made.

Ironically, none of the Irish newspapers has mentioned any of this in its news stories.

As emphasized in Rohit Bhargava’s 5 New Rules of Social Media Optimization, social media should “Make sharing easy”. If the Irish newspaper industry restricts this sharing, it also misses out on the benefits of social media that include branding, relationship-building with readers, establishing itself as the news authorities, to name a few.

I can somewhat empathize with the industry’s potential arguement that charging for link-sharing will help offset the costs of paying for the industry’s journalists. It could be argued that these educated and experienced journalists bring editorial integrity and value to the news industry. Unfortunately, what the Irish newspaper industry is ignoring is the irreparable damage from the massive online community that will simply find its news elsewhere. For free.

If you were part of the Irish newspaper industry, what would be your next steps?

  1. jWhite says:

    WOW! Illegal? That’s a pretty extreme stance… and it never looks good when you’re seen to be going after a charity : ) It is tough times for the newspaper industry for sure. You make extremely important points about the value of experienced and ethical journalists and I would hope that no one expects to receive their work for free but I’m not sure that it is wise for the Irish newspapers discussed above to take such a hard line. I certainly don’t have the solution but there are so many brilliantly creative people in the newspaper industry, someone’s got to be able to think of a better way!
    …maybe smart phone, tablet, and computer manufacturers should start paying a fee to newspaper companies for the rights to include their apps/programs on their products? On the other hand, perhaps this could be a slippery slope!

  2. Sara says:

    Haha, Joli, my thoughts exactly: WOW. This seems extreme and I think they may be shooting themselves in the foot. With the good ol’ World Wide Web, we can choose to find our information elsewhere, and are not tied to local news. Of course there will always be some sources that are more reliable than others, but if these Irish newspapers want to generate even LESS revenue through their online ads, this is a great first step in making sure that they get fewer and fewer impressions as folks choose to go to other sources.

  3. […] May the luck of the Irish be with…its newspaper industry ( […]

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