Is the tablet computer the cure for online journalism?

In a lecture with Robert Andrews editor of paidContent:UK the future of online journalism in a recession hit world was discussed.

paidContent:UK is an essential website for those in the digital media business. Founded in 2002 by Rafat Ali and now now bought by Guardian media, it covers the UK’s digital media economy. At the moment it isn’t too rosy with many newspapers losing about a third of their advertising income.

The Problem

The most common way to make money from online journalism is advertising, however online advertising is a lot cheaper than analogue  and as NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker puts it we are “trading analogue dollars for digital pennies”.

As a result newspapers such as The Times have implemented a paywall as a way to get money from their readers for quality journalism. Unfortunately a PCUK/Harris poll in 2009 found that newspaper paywalls were not the answer and the general public were not willing to pay for content.

When asked what they would do if their favourite news site started charging for content:

– 74 % would find another site

– 8 % would read the headlines only

– 5 % would pay to use it

– 12% were not sure

The Solution?

Many people including Rupert Murdoch are claiming that the iPad and other tablet computers are the way forward for online journalism. Indeed, the Apple apps are incredibly successful, and are repackaging content in an easy, portable system that people are willing to pay for. Robert Andrews said that it was “allowing publishers to conceive a post print world”.

However it is still very early days for the tablet, with only 2% of the population owning one. Whether it will cement itself as the turning point for online media or  be just another fad remains to be seen.


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