Charging for Content: Editor Weighs In

by Brian Blum on July 20, 2009

The U.K. Financial Times’ editor Lionel Barber said during a public speech last week that he confidently predicts “that within the next 12 months, almost all news organizations will be charging for content.”

“News organizations with specialist skills and knowledge have the opportunity to thrive. The mediocre middle is much more at risk,” he continued.

What would make a news organization more distinctive? “It could be sports or celebrity coverage or simply a long-standing reputation for standing up for the common man – or woman,” Barber said. Once the niche is determined, it will be critical “to establish an online platform capable of charging for content, whether on a payment per article basis or a package subscription.”

Barber lauded’s frequency model, “whereby a limited number of articles on the web are offered as free ‘tasters’ before users are asked to subscribe.”

He ended with a cautionary note: “Without new revenue streams, quality journalism will wither.”

You can read the full transcript of Barber’s speech here.

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