Myths about content, and having “too much stuff”

Sad day today: Manchester Evening News laying off scores of journalists. Brr. Scythe swings.

Points of interest: from the guy who showed how to make the Wall Street Journal pay online:

Myth: Charging for content consigns a newspaper’s website to insignificance, and removes it from the “conversation” of the blogs. This has been exploded by the Journal in the 18 months or so since the Rupert Murdoch takeover. In that time the smartest move made by the Journal has been to create a hybrid model where nearly all Journal stories can be reached, for free, by way of a Google News search—and are available for links by bloggers—while the Journal site itself, as an integrated package, remains behind a pay wall. The result has been that the Journal has climbed the charts to now rank ahead of all but two free newspaper sites in terms of page views, according to web-information company Alexa.

Important related reading: Emily Bell (director of digital content at the Guardian) on the “too much stuff” meme (in an article headlined “The biggest mistake of the past 10 years? Too much stuff”):

How does an industry that has force-fed all manner of output to an audience that can’t digest it draw back? The economic downturn will make this confrontation easier to resolve. The way out is for a narrowing at one end of the distribution pipe – the creation end. Production companies in the UK are now bigger and more powerful than broadcasters, not least because of the over-commissioning spree.

So the conclusion:

Rationally this is something every media business knows, but moving towards it is incredibly painful and often extremely expensive. Not to mention slow. The light at the end of the tunnel is the possibility that, when all of the current attrition is over, there will still be enough revenue from advertising to support the very best of the content. Shrinkage is the new black, even the stylish Lygo can see that. The war against too much stuff has officially begun. The challenge is to make sure we are left, when the gloom lifts, with the right stuff.

This has the makings of a very brutal meme. But the bubble has burst – wholesale money of all sorts is gone. Readjust. It’s different.

1 Comment

  1. I think we were moving into a Roman type excess society, so it will be interesting to see how the mindset will genuinely be in 3-5 years time when the dust has settled. Ploughing straight into the next cycle no doubt.

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