Newspapers Should Seek To Innovate Rather Than Calling For Antitrust Protection
A few weeks ago the News Media Alliance, or Newspaper Association of America as it formerly used to be called, revealed that it would be pushing U.S. Congress to exempt newspapers from antitrust laws. This was with a view of allowing the newspapers to go into negotiations with tech giants such as Google and Facebook collectively in regards to how their content is distributed on digital platforms. Currently approximately 44% of Americans obtain their news from the social media platform. And collectively Google’s and Facebook’s share of digital advertising dollars is more than 70%.
“Quality journalism is critical to sustaining democracy … news organizations that fund it must be able to collectively negotiate with the digital platforms that effectively control distribution and audience access in the digital age,” said News Media Alliance’s president and chief executive officer, David Chavern, in a statement.
The move by News Media Alliance coincided with the unveiling of a plan by Facebook which seeks to introduce a subscription model for news content on its platform. Though the social media giant has not revealed details concerning the move, it is expected that a pay wall model which is metered will be put in place. This will see social media users getting access to 10 articles every month at no cost but will be required to sign up for a paid subscription if they need access to more. Google on the hand has Accelerated Mobile Pages, which also offers support for subscriptions though most publishers are so far not happy with the revenues they get.
Given the success of digital platforms such as Google and Facebook in online advertising, newspapers need to innovate rather than seeking protection from the government. Just like successful digital platforms have done, newspapers need to pioneer new business relationships and models.
The newspapers should also collaborate and invest in undertaking research as well as learn from other sectors such as the cable industry which previously used to fail at joint venturing but which has since then flourished by using innovations and standards set by Cable Labs. Players in the cable industry such as Turner, Viacom and FOX, despite being brutal competitors have also collaborated in creating a common audience segment framework for the facilitation of television ad buying across all the networks.
Publishers of newspapers also need to form new partnerships with local businesses, foundations, academic institutions, cable companies and broadcasters. Additionally, they will also need to communicate the value they offer more effectively.