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Turning News into Actionable Information: How Newspaper Publishers Can Charge for Content


Everyone who has a mobile phone with a camera and SMS (1) (Storage Management System) Software used to routinely back up and archive files. See HSM.

(2) (Systems Management Server) Systems management software from Microsoft that runs on Windows NT Server.
 capabilities can report what is happening. The process of reporting what is happening is called news gathering and before ordinary people were capable of doing this, it was only a privileged group In economics, a privileged group is one possible condition for the production of public goods.

A privileged group contains at least one individual that benefits more from a public good than its production costs.
 of professional reporters—journalists—who would and could do it. News gathering was a newspaper’s main reason of existence.

Newspaper publishers based their business model on this process. They printed the news, put advertisements next to it, and asked a price for the pleasure of reading the paper edition. A first evolution that eroded e·rode  
v. e·rod·ed, e·rod·ing, e·rodes
1. To wear (something) away by or as if by abrasion: Waves eroded the shore.

2. To eat into; corrode.
 newspaper publishers’ business model was Metro (and its many copycats), the free paper rag that is handed out in railway and metro stations. Metro proved to steal away Verb 1. steal away - leave furtively and stealthily; "The lecture was boring and many students slipped out when the instructor turned towards the blackboard"
slip away, sneak away, sneak off, sneak out
 some of the newspaper publishers’ advertising income, but as these rags do not distribute any news of significance the damage was within reason.

News and the stories derived thereof have always been intangible. It has this in common with other intangibles like music, images, and motion picture (in whatever form). Intangible assets Intangible Asset

An asset that is not physical in nature.

Examples are things like copyrights, patents, intellectual property, and goodwill. These are the opposite of tangible assets.
 or items can be easily transported in digital format over networks. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently
: news lends itself extremely well to be distributed over the Internet.

Unfortunately, and as a result of a revolution in technology we haven’t seen the end of yet, the news gathering process has gone pretty much the same path. Ordinary people with a smartphone A cellular telephone with information access. It provides digital voice service as well as any combination of e-mail, text messaging, pager, Web access, voice recognition, still and/or video camera, MP3, TV or video player and organizer (see PDA).  or laptop computer can see and live the news and report on it as it happens. They can even fabricate news and broadcast it over the network as if it were real.

The value of news and the stories around it—that once made newspaper publishers a fortune—therefore have been attacked from two sides. The first is the perception of news gathering being something for which no special education, training, or experience is needed.

Do publishers need professional journalists?

The second relates to the first and has it that non-professionals—laymen—despite not having authority to fall back on (journalists and reporters gain authority not only by training and experience, but also by working for one or multiple established publications) can easily make it look like they have. After all, what is needed to report on news except for the ability to write (even if it is grammatically gram·mat·i·cal  
1. Of or relating to grammar.

2. Conforming to the rules of grammar: a grammatical sentence.
 incorrect, people will still understand it…)?

There is a third factor that is ignored by most laymen: professional ethics professional ethics,
n the rules governing the conduct, transactions, and relationships within a profession and among its publics.

professional ethics liability,
n 1.
. As it is largely ignored by the audience, it only strengthens the belief that anyone can be a news reporter…

The effect of these two (or three, depending on where you stand) factors together have led to people not being willing to pay for news and news stories anymore. If you can report the news and I can read it for free, why would I pay then for a newspaper that basically does what you do?

This is what really lies at the basis of the current crisis in which many newspaper publishers find themselves. The business model of newspapers has always been to depend on advertising as well as subscription fees. The subscription fees have been necessary because newspapers are expensive to run. When newspaper publishers were forced into becoming cross-channel publishers, the publishing costs did not decrease but in fact increased.

They now had to invest in publishing systems that can handle multi-channel publishing. For most of them this meant new investments as old editorial systems were not up to this task. Additionally, and due to a lack of understanding of publishing beyond printed matter, many managing editors chose systems that support cross-channel publishing but not in the most effective or efficient way.

Do you publish data, information or knowledge?

These ‘mistakes’ (I love the French expression: ‘accidents de parcours’ for this) further led to costs and expenses that had to be made in order to stay on top of (or at least: in) the game. With fixed costs fixed costs, the costs that do not change to meet fluctuations in enrollment or in use of services (e.g., salaries, rent, business license fees, and depreciation).
 and running costs running costs npl [of business] → gastos mpl corrientes [of car] → gastos mpl de mantenimiento

running costs npl [of business
 all more out of control than most publishers would like to admit to, the need for income has only increased and this where the Internet becomes a deadfall dead·fall  
1. A trap for large animals in which a heavy weight is arranged to fall on and kill or disable the prey.

2. A mass of fallen timber and tangled brush.

As news and news stories are perceived to be without value, a newspaper can’t charge for it and only advertising money remains as a source of income. Consequently, newspapers now face the dilemma of staying on their current course and offer everything for free—which is a straight path to bankruptcy for most of them—or they will have to start charging for their contentin the hopes that large number of people will find their offering compelling enough to pay for it.

The common belief among Internet experts such as Jeff Jarvis Jeff Jarvis (born September 12, 1954) is an American journalist. He is the former television critic for TV Guide and People magazine, creator of Entertainment Weekly, Sunday editor and associate publisher of the New York Daily News,  has been that it is a mistake to charge for something that people can find on the Internet for free. Jarvis has a point, but he neglects factors that prove him wrong. One of these factors is economic reality. If a newspaper has not enough funding to keep delivering information for free, it has no other choice but to charge for access to that information.

Now, if you have read carefully you’ll notice that I just stopped talking about ‘news’ and that I replaced this term with a new one: information. It’s true you can’t charge for news because the entire news gathering and distribution process has become without monetary value.

But you can charge for information. I define information as data that you can process internally and use to act upon in order to get a better result than you would have had without the information. If you are going to process information internally, the information becomes knowledge (and if that knowledge has been enriched with useful experience, it has just become wisdom).

Knowledge allows you to exert control over your environment. I’ll give an example. In Iran, the people are protesting loudly and even violently against what we could describe as a factual dictatorship dictatorship

Form of government in which one person or an oligarchy possesses absolute power without effective constitutional checks. With constitutional democracy, it is one of the two chief forms of government in use today.
. The news (the data) tells us of riots in Tehran but we receive little news (data) related to smaller cities or to Iran’s countryside.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume there is no news beyond what we know from news reporters (the “pros”) in Tehran. In my ‘model’ you would have to say you lack the data to judge for yourself (process the data internally) if it’s safe enough to go on a business trip to one of Iran’s smaller cities (act upon). The data simply remains data; it never crosses the magical border between data and information in your particular case. However, for someone who had planned a business trip to Tehran the news is the information that can be acted upon: it’s unsafe to go. One of the ways to get to the information more efficiently is by linking to other stories.

Publishers can make money from decision supporting content

It will be clear that newspapers can make money from news that can be used in a decision making process. It’s the same type/form/sort of news that enables financial data publishers to charge vast subscription fees for their data stream. It’s the same type of data—or in their case: half-processed information—that allows market analysts like Gartner Group (company) Gartner Group - One of the biggest IT industry research firms.

Address: Connecticut, USA.
 to charge money for their publications.

This takes me back to newspaper publishers. No, you can’t charge for news and stories that have never had any inherent value. A story like the one about Michael Jackson Noun 1. Michael Jackson - United States singer who began singing with his four brothers and later became a highly successful star during the 1980s (born in 1958)
Michael Joe Jackson, Jackson
’s death has no value whatsoever. It belongs in the realm of ‘faits divers Several; any number more than two; different.

Divers is a collective term used to group a number of unspecified people, objects, or acts. It is used frequently to describe property, as in divers parcels of land.
’, gossip, and lose facts, although I’m sure Jackson fans will disagree and tell you the news has great value. But they confuse the death of their favourite star with the news about his death—as soon as you know he’s no longer among the living, the value of that story becomes zero, nil, naught—no news story can bring him back to life.

So, no, you can’t charge people for news on Michael Jackson’s death. The bloggers, tweeters and facebookers who are fans of the King of Pop will broadcast the news and the gossip surrounding his death just fine.

But you can charge for information on the state of affairs in Iran, if you have professionals on the spot who can not only show you the bloody riots (which only appeals to our craving craving Psychology A strong desire to consume a particular substance–eg of abuse, or food; craving is a major factor in relapse and/or continued use after withdrawal from a substance of abuse and is both imprecisely defined and difficult to measure.  for sensation) and tell you how hard the Revolutionary Guards hit people on their heads, but who can also evaluate if it’s safe to travel to other cities, how foreigners Foreigners


the condition of being an alien.


Law. the seizure of foreign subjects to enforce a claim for justice or other right against their nation.

gypsyologist, gipsyologist

 are treated, etc.

Perhaps the example is a bit flawed flaw 1  
1. An imperfection, often concealed, that impairs soundness: a flaw in the crystal that caused it to shatter. See Synonyms at blemish.

, but I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m getting at. If newspapers succeed in delivering actionable Giving sufficient legal grounds for a lawsuit; giving rise to a Cause of Action.

An act, event, or occurrence is said to be actionable when there are legal grounds for basing a lawsuit on it.
 information, they’ll be able to charge a decent price for their content. If they can’t, they will fail. But to get there, their content providers (journalists, reporters…) will have to learn their job description has just become more complex than objectively reporting the news.

Copyright 2009 IT-Enquirer
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright (c) Mochila, Inc.

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Author:Erik Vlietinck, Chief Analyst
Date:Aug 12, 2009
Previous Article:Publishing workflow efficiency depends on more than software alone.

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