For publishers, the fact that over 50 percent of adults in the U.S. this year are still paying for news products will come as a relief – but should that figure dip below that magic halfway mark the sentiment might well change, particularly since last year’s Reuters Institute ‘Digital News Report’ found that less than a tenth of people in the US are paying for news online.
But as the Media Insight Project’s introduction to its ‘Paying for News’ report explains: “The future of journalism will increasingly depend on consumers paying for the news directly, as content distributors like Facebook and Google take up the lion’s share of digital advertising dollars.” The whole report is vital reading, but for the time-poor members of our audience, we’ve pulled out six key takeaways to help you make sense of who is paying for news – and why.
There are viable alternatives to paid-for news products
It’s an unhappy fact (for publishers, if not for consumers) that the internet has enabled a vast promulgation of news sources, and some business models that allow some publishers to give their content away for free. Obviously there are drawbacks to that, almost too many to count, but the fact is that there are free news sources out there, and consumers aren’t ignorant of that fact.
The MIP report notes that of the respondents that don’t get news from a specific paid-for news site, the vast majority consume news from a variety of traditional and digital sources. They also note that, given the ubiquity of social networks, many people choose to get their news from there:
“In this format, 54 percent say they have used social media sites for news. About 5 percent of respondents, 134 people, say yes to the general question about getting news on social media, but did not identify a specific platform in the earlier section. (It is the same for payers).
“About a third of nonpayers also get news and information from a news app, go to online-only news sources, and get news from broadcast television or newspapers.”