PPaid content models abound, and bold newspaper companies among us are putting their research and smarts into launching full paywalls, partial paywalls, hybrid paywalls, “wallet” payment systems for buying a story at a time, and any number of other approaches to test what consumers are willing to pay for.
Another approach is an “everything old is new again” take on what newsgathering organisations, and editors in particular, do: organise varied and often scattered parts (story elements, or later, stories from packages or sections) into something thoughtful, useful and compelling to consumers of news and information.
So step away from the paywall conversation momentarily and consider the vast wealth of information at your disposal. What has happened in your community that resonates with local readers, or for that matter, anyone, anywhere, with Internet access and varied interests in who-knows-what?
In our case at The Spokesman-Review, there is some low-hanging fruit that presents intriguing possibilities.
For example, we hosted a World’s Fair here in Spokane in 1974. Somewhere there are World’s Fair aficionados, yes?
Another possibility: Spokane is home to John Stockton, a professional basketball player who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Stockton spent four seasons at Gonzaga University in Spokane, and enjoyed a stellar career with the Utah Jazz. Yes, there are Stockton fans, GU fans, and Jazz fans aplenty.
On a less happy note, the violent confrontation and siege at Ruby Ridge happened in northern Idaho in 1992. The coverage resulted in one of many chapters of this newspaper’s best reporting. And of course the event itself prompted an outcry over federal law enforcement practices. No doubt there are those who would like to read first-hand reporting of this terrible saga from the newspaper of record.
Another dark yet noteworthy period in our region involved a years-long puzzle surrounding the disappearance of women in our community. Our reporters tracked cases over many years, and ultimately law enforcement agency detectives narrowed in on Robert Lee Yates, Jr., now on death row for confessing to 13 murders, and later charged with two others in Western Washington. There are those who would find the detective work and reporting on this on-going mystery worth reading from the perspective of those close to it: the local newspaper and local law enforcement.
Could a consumer take the time to use Google archives and put together packages on any of these aforementioned topics one piece at a time? Sure.
But could we as newspaper editors and aggregators pull together comprehensive story and photo packages, post them on our news company’s Web site storefronts , buy search words to guide traffic to our Web stores and sell downloadable packages for a price that would be worth it to many, many customers? We can, and should.
We’re working actively with our newsroom, where many have long institutional memories, excellent news judgment and the know-how to package something of great value.
Take a look back in order to look forward. You might be surprised at what you find to market and sell.