Should Newspapers Solicit Donations For News Coverage

 

From PaidContent.org. Read Full story here.

Newspapers adopting the NPR model or soliciting donations to help pay for content or programming is one that has been floated a lot recently. This story in PaidContent.org talks about the Miami Herald’s efforts. I have a theory on why this will not work, ever- unfortunately, it appears to be hard-wired into the American population’s psyche to hate their local newspaper. No one seems to ever appreciate their local newspaper, instead they see the flaws all too clearly, overlooking everything else. Before newspapers can get people to make donations above the subscription prices, they are going to need to figure out a way to get some love from the hometown fans.

The Inside Word is a weekly feature that looks at compelling
industry debates and discussions unfolding on the blogs of employees at
digital-media companies.

Blogger: Steve Outing

Position: Founder of the Digital Media Test Kitchen at the
University of Colorado’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication
and former columnist at the now defunct Editor and Publisher

Blog name: Steve Outing

Backstory: In December, The Miami Herald added a
link to the end of all of the stories on its web site inviting readers
to make a donation via credit card to “support ongoing news coverage;”
Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal said the experiment has “elicited an encouraging steam of gifts, ranging from $2 to $55.”

Blog post: But Outing says the Herald
is taking the wrong approach, calling it unsophisticated. “How about
instead tracking frequent readers, and presenting them with a donation
pitch after they’ve read a number of articles?” He also suggested
donation package options that could include gifts, a la NPR.

Post-script:
But when I talked with him, he was even more bullish about a different
tack, suggesting that newspapers themselves shouldn’t even be involved
directly in the soliciting of money. Rather, he thinks papers should
join a third-party service like Kachingle or the now out-of-business
Contenture, where newspaper fans could potentially set aside a certain
amount of money each month and then can allocate it among their
favorite sites.

Outing said that because traditional newspapers are for
profit-enterprises they face “pushback” from readers who will wonder
“why is this giant corporation begging for money” if they solicit
donations directly. Also, it’s likely that visitors who appreciate
online news won’t want to allocate all of their free cash to just one
for-profit site. “I don’t think this is going to save the news industry
by any means, but if one of those (services) really takes off, that
could get pretty interesting,” he said.

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